Voting to leave the EU: the effect of Brexit on the law

The Effect of ‘Brexit’ On The Law

Introduction: the effect of Brexit on the law

Despite the contrasting views about the extent of the impact that leaving the EU will have on the UK, there is no dispute between the ‘leave camp’ and the ‘remain camp’ that the UK’s exit from the EU will have wide-reaching consequences.

To complete a qualifying law degree, students must study EU law at university so most law students have an idea about how EU institutions, case law and legislation affects the UK. Whether you love the module or hate it, there is no doubt that EU law is currently very much a part of our legal system.

If you’re going for an interview over the next few weeks, it’s possible that one question you could be asked is: ‘what effect would Brexit have on the legal world?’

We thought we’d give you a very quick run-down on some key areas of law and the effect of Brexit on the law:

  1. Employment lawmuch of the UK’s employment law is derived from EU directives. Leaving the EU will give the UK the opportunity to keep the parts of employment law that it likes but repeal the parts that it doesn’t like. However, this would be a complicated process and individuals and businesses may find it difficult to adapt to any changes.
  1. Competition lawthere are jurisdictional issues as UK businesses facing antitrust investigations might be investigated by both the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority if the UK leaves.
  1. Intellectual propertyif the UK leaves, the UK Intellectual Property Office will still be able to grant patents, trademarks and design rights (as they have done previously). However, the UK will lose out on the benefits of the Unified Patent Court, which is designed to hear cases of infringement of European patents.
  1. Environmental lawdue to the cross-border nature of environmental issues such as emissions, there is an argument that it is important to have EU-wide legislation governing this area. If the UK leaves, it will have to decide how it will work with other countries to tackle these issues. The UK has implemented a large amount of national law following EU directives and it will have to decide whether it wants to keep this national law or repeal it.
  1. Land law – has not really been affected by EU membership and is governed nearly in its entirety by national legislation and case law. There are discrete areas in real estate fund management that are affected by EU law but leaving the EU is unlikely to impact the law underpinning the sale and purchase of land.

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