Law Society of England and Wales welcomes govt move to slash retained EU law sunset clause

It is the right decision, Law Society president says

Law Society of England and Wales welcomes govt move to slash retained EU law sunset clause

The Law Society of England and Wales has welcomed the government’s decision to replace a ‘sunset clause’ in the Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill with a list of laws that will be revoked by the end of the year. Instead, around 600 EU and secondary laws are expected to be revoked at the end of 2023.

The UK government introduced the Retained EU Law Bill into parliament late last year. The law included a sunset clause requiring the automatic repeal of retained EU laws not otherwise preserved or replaced in UK law before the end of 2023.

“Over the past year, Whitehall departments have been working hard to identify retained EU law to preserve, reform, or revoke,” said UK business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch in a written parliamentary statement. “However, with the growing volume of retained EU law being identified, and the risks of legal uncertainty posed by sunsetting instruments made under EU law, it has become clear that the programme was becoming more about reducing legal risk by preserving EU laws than prioritising meaningful reform. That is why today I am proposing a new approach – one that will ensure ministers and officials can focus more on reforming retained EU law and doing that faster.”

Badenoch said the government was tabling an amendment for Lords Report which would replace the sunset clause with a list of the retained EU laws to revoke at the end of 2023.

“This provides certainty for business by making it clear which regulations will be removed from our statue book, instead of highlighting only the retained EU laws that would be saved. We will retain the vitally important powers in the bill that allow us to continue to amend EU laws, so more complex regulation can still be revoked or reformed after proper assessment and consultation,” she said.

Many civic societies had clamoured for the government to remove the sunset clause from the Retained EU Law Bill before the UK government announced its decision this week.

“The government’s decision to remove the sunset clause and replace it with a list of the retained EU laws that it intends should fall away at the end of 2023 is the right decision,” said Law Society of England and Wales president Lubna Shuja. “This should provide some certainty for businesses, lawyers, and citizens alike. We await the list being published. It is essential there is sufficient time to review affected legislation and consider the repercussions in all areas of law.”

The Law Society of England and Wales reported that more than a thousand EU laws were revoked since the UK’s ‘Brexit’ from the EU. Apart from the 600 laws the UK government proposed to revoke directly through the Retained EU Law Bill, another piece of legislation – the Financial Services and Markets Bill and Procurement Bill – is set to revoke another 500 pieces of retained EU law.

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