Potential impact of Brexit
As everyone is aware, a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is looming and many businesses will no doubt be wondering how a vote to leave could affect them. The potential economic impacts have been widely reported and speculated upon - but what of the legal impact of vote leave?
In principle, the effects of a leave vote will be that the UK’s rights and obligations under EU law will cease to exist from the date of formal withdrawal. However, it is not quite as simple as this as EU law will continue to have effect within the UK through all the legislation that has already been passed by the UK Parliament to date in order to implement EU law, and the significant amount of other UK legislation that is otherwise based on or influenced by EU law.
We can assume that such legislation will not be repealed (at least not immediately), but this does raise a number of questions and present a number of potential difficulties. For example, what will happen to cases where the facts occur after the UK has withdrawn from the EU, but the legislation governing events is based on EU law - will UK judges continue to interpret such legislation in accordance with EU case law, or will a new domestic interpretation apply? This is not clear.
We can assume that some EU regulatory regimes will continue to apply to UK businesses in order for them to trade within the single market and comply with EU standards. In this sense, a blanket repeal of EU law is likely to be wholly unrealistic. Without a crystal ball it is not possible to predict how exactly UK legislation may be affected by a vote leave – no doubt this will be heavily debated in the event that Brexit is realised.
One thing we can be sure of with certainty is that any overhaul of UK legislation in the event of a Brexit will not happen overnight - it is likely to be a matter of years before the dust settles.
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