Monday, 9 January 2017

Legal Man

Do you lie awake and worry about the impending legal vacuum when the UK finally closes the door on the EU?  I doubt the UK medical profession is seeing an uptick in sleep disorder caused by legislative worries but this really is something that ought to be keeping the entire nation awake in a nail-biting state of tension and stress. This post is going to be a quick update on the Great Repeal Bill and the likelihood that the UK Government will manage this with aplomb.


The Great Repeal Bill will attempt to replace all EU Regulations with a UK copy.  In doing so, it will require the creation of UK institutions and courts that mirror all of the EU's institutions and courts.  This will involve the granting of legal powers to institutions, the appointment of judges, the recruitment of technical experts in diverse fields such as the safe transport of hazardous waste or the training and monitoring of train drivers.  It is going to be a complex job.  On April 1, 2019, after Brexit is complete, this will all have to work seamlessly.  If it doesn't, the UK is going to be paralysed by a legal vacuum.  Into that legal vacuum will step pension fraudsters, data hackers and reckless transport companies.  Huge parts of the engine that fuels UK life might even be closed down entirely until the legal situation is clarified.  That might mean that pharmaceutical companies can no longer gain licenses for life-saving drugs, that pensions sit in limbo, or that trains stop to swap drivers half-way through the Channel Tunnel.  It's going to be a good time to be a lawyer, though, because if the UK Government does a poor job this is all going to end in court.

What chance is there that the UK Government will do a good job here?  Personally, I'm not overly optimistic.   Let's look at the enormous mess that was made of the implementation of the EU Working Time Directive to see if even a single legal issue could be managed without a period of legal uncertainty and a string of court cases.  Among many protections given to workers to ensure a work/life balance, the  EU Working Time Directive laid out a minimum standard on paid leave.  It was the job of the UK Government to absorb this into domestic law.  As with many EU Directives, quite a bit of flexibility is allowed in the implementation.  For example, paid leave might only include basic pay.  Alternatively, it might include expected commissions and bonuses calculated from a specified formula to compute an average.  It might even include expected overtime pay.  The EU pretty much leaves this up to the individual country because it never aims for more than limited harmonisation.  What did the UK Government do, exactly?  Nothing.  It didn't even consider that paid leave might be a complex issue and simply left a blank space.  What could have been a smooth implementation ended up being resolved with messy court cases over a number of years.  Bloody heck, what a mess.

The EU Working Time Directive should have been a relatively simple implementation.  The UK Government completely failed in its duty and in doing so left businesses and employees facing years of uncertainty.  Leaving the EU is many orders of magnitude more complex than legislating for overtime or bonuses in holiday pay.  More importantly, the treatment and transport of hazardous waste is many orders of magnitude more important than legislating for overtime or bonuses in holiday pay.  A sherry before bed always worked for my Gran.

Over and out,



  1. It's time to call Mr Cameron to account here.

    He point blank refused to contemplate losing the referendum. ("Don't be silly", he replied to Nicola Sturgeon when she suggested that he might.)

    And so not one single piece of work was permitted by the UK civil service based on the premise of a Leave vote. That was gross negligence in my opinion. Had that been done, perhaps the fact of all this necessary upheaval... not caused by pique on the part of the EU, nor even a notion that British is best, but quite simply because if you are, for example, going to sell drugs, you kinda have to have an authority that will authorise them... The alternative, of course, is that Munguin could start selling off all manner of crap dug out of the back garden, as a cure for ingrown toenails, make a fortune, emigrate to Switzerland and become your neighbour...leaving behind a massive hole where the back garden used to be, and a great number of people hobbling about Dundee.

    Secondly, when Cameron, as head of the Remain campaign, was making the case against leaving, no mention of all of this was made. All we heard were the same platitudes about Britain being a respected member (snigger), having clout (snigger) and ...well, y'know, all the crap that we heard in the Scottish referendum.

    No one said there would be a nightmare of regulatory bodies to be set up.

    Surely when Nasty Nigel and Batshit Boris and House Elf Gove said that they could throw £350 million a week at the health service someone might have countered...ah, well, but you'll need to throw some of that at setting up and staffing hundreds of bodies to regulate and oversee all manner of things... otherwise old Maisie (bless her; she's not bad for 83) may be driving your intercity to Aberdeen next year, because she'll work for less than the minimum wage.

    Of course, to have admitted all that would have implied that Britain might find it difficult. Heaven forbid.

    The trouble is that they will.

    I'm beginning to wish that I had trained as a solicitor.

    Oh and a nice bottle of red before bed always works for me!

    1. The lack of preparedness is truly shocking. On top of Cameron, it's amazing that both Leave campaigns were allowed to campaign with any plan at all for leaving the EU. I remember when Alex Salmond published the independence document. It was hundreds of pages long and was picked over for weeks on end by the press. Absolutely nothing from any of the two Leave campaigns. They just thought it would be easy because they didn't (and still don't) understand how the world works at all.

      Not "Crazy" Maisie? Uh oh. She tells everyone she's going to be a train driver but no one believes her, not with her driving ban for speeding.

      My next post imagines the life of a lawyer on the Great Repeal Bill. I've now changed my mind about it being a good time for lawyers, unless they get paid overtime at Nr 10.

    2. ...without any plan at all for leaving the EU.

  2. OK. I'm glad I never trained as a solicitor. I wish I'd trained as a train driver. Maisie and I could have fun racing to see who could get to the points first.

    1. Oh wait... Now I don't need any training. Yipeeeeeeee

    2. Brexit opportunities abound.

  3. I got to the bit where you wrote "What chance is there that the UK Government will do a good job here?" and I thought "Not a snowball's chance in hell", so when I read on from there, I thought "What an optimist! He thinks there is a faint chance they might!"

    1. I like to think that there is always hope. Sometimes there is no hope but a little pretence can cheer me up in the bleak mid-winter.


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