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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Retained EU Law Bill: Law Society calls for sunset clause extension

Retained EU Law Bill: Law Society calls for sunset clause extension


The Society has urged the government to extend the timeline for reform

As the Retained EU Law Bill enters its final stage in the House of Commons today (18 January 2023), the Law Society said the bill “would rock legal certainty in the UK and undermine the country’s status as an internationally competitive business environment”.

Law Society president, Lubna Shuja, said the speed at which the government proposes to review retained EU law “is a recipe for bad law-making”. 

“As it stands the bill would entail bypassing parliamentary scrutiny and stakeholder consultation by giving Ministers the power to independently revoke, restate, replace or update retained EU law,” said Shuja.

“The net result of this unnecessary haste and over-reach is likely to be a period of uncertainty over the status of regulations that would affect consumers, business, government departments and the courts”.

The Law Society has urged the government to extend the timeline for reform and remove the deadline of 31 December 2023 for reviewing retained law.

Shuja commented: “If enacted as is, the bill could lead to different interpretations of the law by different courts and to the nations of the UK enforcing different regulations. This would not only unbalance the devolution settlements, it could also lead to legal confusion for businesses and consumers for decades to come”. 

The Law Society president particularly highlighted that clause 7 takes the “highly unusual step” of giving powers to the law Officers – the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Advocate General – to interfere in civil litigation after a case has concluded. Shuja said this was “contrary to the interests of justice and the rule of law”.

“Our members – solicitors – are particularly concerned workers could lose access to long-established rights that now form an integral part of Britain’s reputation as a fair society, such as holiday pay or protection against fire and rehire,” concluded Shuja.

“We call on the Government to publish an exhaustive list of every piece of legislation being revoked under the sunset clause to ensure adequate scrutiny of what will be lost.”