Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) is the red button for the nuclear option of withdrawal from the EU, and in its design, it was never really, truly envisioned to be pressed. Without testing, and without precedent, we are left with no idea of the potential fallout of pressing that red button. Compared to the quasi-constitutionism of Article 2 TEU evoking the values ‘common to the Member States’ of ‘pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between men and women’; or the brutal legalism of Title VII of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on competition, tax and the approximation of laws; Article 50 TEU is anaemic. It is, essentially, a button triggering a countdown clock, which is on a comparable level of advancement to the 1980s floppy disk.
The two-year countdown
Triggering Article 50 TEU will begin a two-year countdown to the end of UK Membership of the Union. Within that two-year period an agreement determining the withdrawal arrangements and the future relationship with the Union must be made. Barring a unanimous decision to extend the period, at the end of two years from the point of notification, the UK will no longer be a Member. The Treaties, and all rights and duties therein, cease to apply.
But now, as the British political establishment play a game of “pass the red button”, we are faced with some confounding, and concerning questions from a rights’ perspective. Likely to be lost in the two-year scramble for a political and trade agreement between the UK and EU, which will attempt at all costs to avoid the fall-back position of the application of WTO trade rules, are the very rights and values held as common between the (ex-)Member State(s). During that two-year period, EU law and (pertinently) EU rights will continue to apply in the UK. Free movement will still be (from a legal perspective) free, and claimants may still rely on their EU rights in the Courts. But then what? What happens when the clock strikes zero? Continue reading
Owain Thomas QC reviews this new book by 1 Crown Office Row’s own Sally Smith QC.
Sally Smith’s wonderful new biography of the great Edwardian advocate Edward Marshall Hall is the first reappraisal of his life and career since the celebrated biography by Marjoribanks, published only two years after his death. Since then the worlds of law, journalism, celebrity, and crime have become intertwined in so many complex ways, but Smith charts in this book the quite remarkable public life of the era’s most sought after barrister. He attained celebrity beyond the dreams of even the most fervent publicity hungry barrister. His cases were regularly front page news. Because of the deliciously lurid subject matter some might have got there anyway, but his name added a lustre and whetted the public appetite for the scandal to come with the promise of a coup de théâtre. Thousands waited for the verdicts outside the Old Bailey. Continue reading
We’re quiet at the UKHRB, but working on it. In the meantime, here is a level headed prognostication of where the EU arbiter – no longer head arbiter for us, but for the time being – will need to go.
Thank you Eutopia law for permission to repost this instructive article by Professor Peter Lindseth.
“What if…?” These kinds of questions may now seem pointless in the aftermath of the victory of Leave in the EU Referendum. Instead we hear ‘What’s done is done’, ‘Leave means Leave’, ‘out is out’, etc., etc., etc.
But one question has always nagged at me ever since David Cameron brought his renegotiation deal back to the UK in February: What if it included a serious commitment to alter the role and doctrines of the European Court of Justice? Would that have tipped the balance toward the Remain side? Would we have been talking instead about a 52-48 victory for Remain? Would serious ECJ reform, both institutionally and doctrinally, have been enough to peel off the likes of Boris Johnson from the Leave camp, harnessing his energies for Remain and reform?
We will never know. But the question is still of interest, if for no other reason than the remaining Member States must now seriously consider a range of EU reforms in order to prevent further contagion of the Brexit virus. As former German Constitutional Court Judge Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff said in an interview on Verfassungsblog,
the shock over what has happened, and the fear of further disintegration, might produce an awakening effect. So I try to remain optimistic.
This post is in that spirit. Continue reading
Last year 32,446 people subject to immigration control in the UK were detained by the government. Some had entered the country irregularly and were quickly removed. Others were detained pending removal or deportation. More than half of them were released back into the community, meaning that their detention had served no purpose.
But what many people don’t know is that many of those detained were ordinary people, many of whom had lived in the UK for decades and, until they were detained had been quietly going about their everyday lives with their partners and children. Some have never known any other home, and have husbands and wives, sons and daughters, jobs, homes, lives right here in Britain. Decisions to detain pay no heed to the impact of such a decision on the wider family. Parents are removed without warning from the heart of the family. Continue reading
1 Crown Office Row and Hart Publishing are delighted to announce the publication of
‘The Inquest Book: The Law of Coroners and Inquests’ edited by Caroline Cross and Neil Garnham
with contributions from barristers at 1 Crown Office Row
We are delighted to offer readers of the UKHRB a 20% discount on the book! Please see below for details of how to order with your discount
John Wadham today takes on the role of National Preventative Mechanism chair. He was formally Chief Legal Officer for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and most recently the Director of the international human rights organisation, Interights. Throughout his career, John has worked to protect the rights of detainees.
We are delighted to feature this from John on his new role:
The National Preventive Mechanism describes the network of independent statutory bodies that have responsibility for preventing ill-treatment in detention. In every jurisdiction of the UK – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the bodies in this network have the job of inspecting or monitoring every place of detention to try to prevent the ill-treatment of those detained. Whether a person is compulsorily detained in a prison, an immigration removal centre, a psychiatric hospital, or as a child in a Secure Training Centre, there is an organisation responsible for assessing how detainees are treated and ensuring that no ill-treatment will be tolerated.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) is the international human rights treaty designed to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty by requiring National Preventive Mechanisms to be set up in every country. OPCAT’s adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002 demonstrated a consensus among the international community that people deprived of their liberty are particularly vulnerable to ill-treatment and that efforts to combat such ill-treatment should focus on primarily on prevention. OPCAT embodies the idea that prevention of ill-treatment in detention can best be achieved by a system of independent, regular visits to all places of detention. OPCAT entered into force in June 2006. There are already 80 countries party to OPCAT, and 62 designated NPMs across the world – all designed to prevent ill-treatment in their places of detention. The UK ratified OPCAT in December 2003 and designated its own NPM in March 2009. Continue reading
Photo credit: Guardian
By Marina Wheeler QC
In a speech about Brexit last week, the Home Secretary shared what she called her “hard-headed analysis”: membership of an unreformed EU makes us safer, but – beware the non-sequitur – we must withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which does not.
It is surely time for some clearer Government thinking about these questions. If politicians could put politics to one side, they might recognise that the Convention and the Strasbourg court are not enemies of our sovereignty, but there are aspects of EU law as applied by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg which are.