Lawful composition – the EFTA Court’s approach

On 10 September 2020, the British Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union, Eleanor Sharpston, was replaced by the Greek lawyer Athanasios Rantos. Most of the commentators of the incident, which stirred up a great deal of dust, focus on the question whether the termination of Ms. Sharpston’s mandate on 10 September 2020 was lawful. The following considerations, on the other hand, examine the legal situation in the event that her expulsion from the ECJ was after Brexit in line with EU law. A precedent of the EFTA Court in 2016 may be relevant in this context.

Continue Reading →

A Matter of Faith

The purpose of Brexit, we have been told, is to “take back control”. It should hardly come as a surprise therefore that this involves the reassertion by Parliament of its prerogative to determine the domestic effects (if any) of international agreements within the UK legal system. Wresting this power away from Brussels goes to the very root of Brexit’s raison d’être. Moreover, why have this power if you’re not going to use it? It is in this context that the furore concerning the Internal Market Bill, presented last Wednesday by the Johnson government, should be viewed.

Continue Reading →

In the Name of Peace and Integrity?

Last Tuesday, something rare took place in Westminster. The UK Government officially announced its intention to breach the Withdrawal Agreement that it had signed and ratified a few months ago. Prime Minister Boris Johnson valiantly defended the draft by declaring that such breach is necessary in order ‘to uphold the integrity of the UK, but also to protect the Northern Irish peace process and the Good Friday agreement.’ Is that really so?

Continue Reading →

A Test for Sovereignty after Brexit

Speaking in the House of Commons on the eve of the publication of the Internal Market Bill and in response to an urgent question, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis stated that ‘Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way’. Can the UK, by domestic legislation, limit the direct effect of the Withdrawal Agreement?

Continue Reading →

Contested Justice

As the UK and the EU are entering the final phase in the negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal, it has become clear that there is a fundamental clash of interests not only about fishing and governance issues but also about human rights. For people outside the UK it has often been difficult to comprehend the persistent contestation of the HRA and the European Convention, as well as their lack of public support. There are three main reasons behind this conundrum.

Continue Reading →

No unity in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has not achieved a unified approach towards COVID-19. Rather, the crisis has exposed the transformation of the UK into nations pulling in quite different directions. This post will discuss the disunity in the British response to coronavirus, focusing on the Scottish and British governments. COVID-19 illustrates the political and legal instability of the British constitution as the country exits the European Union.

Continue Reading →

Corona Constitutional #6: Der englische Patient

Boris Johnson liegt mit Corona in der Intensivstation. Was passiert, wenn der Premierminister stirbt oder sein Amt nicht mehr ausüben kann? Wie regelt man das ohne geschriebene Verfassung? GAVIN PHILLIPSON ist einer der besten Kenner des britischen Verfassungsrechts. Im Interview mit Max Steinbeis gibt er Auskunft über die Rechte und Möglichkeiten des Parlaments, über die ungeheure Machtfülle der Regierung und über die Zukunft der Grund- und Menschenrechte im Vereinigten Königreich.

Continue Reading →

A Prime Minister in Hospital: the Constitutional Implications

Following the news that the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been taken to hospital for treatment for COVID-19, there has been much discussion about what should happen if he should die or become incapacitated. Who would take over and how would such a successor be chosen? What is the role of Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, who has been designated to deputise for him in his absence? And how do we find the answers to the above questions, given the UK has no codified Constitution to consult?

Continue Reading →

More than just ,Protecting Veterans’

On 18 March the UK Minister for Defence Ben Wallace introduced into the UK Parliament its promised package of new legislation designed to ‘protect veterans’. the proposed laws would amend the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) in a number of ways that impact on its human rights obligations under international law, particularly treaty commitments under the ECHR.

Continue Reading →