Wednesday 28 February 2018

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No.2) - Transition

The text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement has been published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

The previous post looked at Part 1 of the Draft.  This post considers Part 4 Transition.  Part 4 comprises  Articles 121 to 126.

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No.1)

The text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement has been published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

This 120 Page document is packed with detail.  The draft divides into 6 Parts plus Protocols relating to Ireland / Northern Ireland and also to Cyprus.  A Table of Contents is at page 111.

If this document becomes the Withdrawal Agreement - remember it is a DRAFT at the moment - then it will come into force on 30th March 2019.  Part 4 of the draft deals with Transition and the transition period will end on 31st December 2020 - (Art 121).  During the transition period, Union law will be applicable to and in the UK unless the agreement provides otherwise (Art 122). 

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Trade Bill ~ a vague amendment

A number of Bills currently before Parliament are concerned with Brexit and its possible consequences.  The Trade Bill is one of them.  It is a government Bill within the remit of the Secretary of State for International Trade (Dr Liam Fox MP).  Another Bill is the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill which was briefly considered in this post of 15th January.

An interesting amendment has been put forward to the Trade Bill but first let's delve into a little of the Bill's detail.

Clause 2:

Friday 23 February 2018

Northern Ireland ~ some notes

"The Good Friday Agreement is under attack.  Can we really risk ditching it?  That is a headline in The Guardian 23rd February.  The answer ought to be a resounding NO.  This post examines why.

Several Members of Parliament are calling into question the Good Friday Agreement (1998) despite the fact that it has been, and remains, the basis of the peace process in Northern Ireland - Huffpost 19th February - "Hardline Brexiteers have been accused of “jeopardising” peace in Northern Ireland after they made dramatic claims the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was “not sustainable.”  The peace process is far from being an event that took place only in 1998.  Securing a lasting peace settlement in Northern Ireland has required on-going work and is likely to do so for a considerable time to come.

Northern Ireland - which voted 55.8% to Remain in the EU - is facing particular difficulties over Brexit with the possibility of a harder border having to be created between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The GFA operates within the context of EU membership and with a strong requirement for a robust legal structure in place to support political power-sharing and human rights.

Monday 12 February 2018

Brexit negotiations as at 9th February

Here is the Speech of 9th February by Michel Barnier (EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit). Mr Barnier said that - "Throughout this negotiation, you will not find in our attitude or in my attitude – on this subject, or on others – the least trace of discourtesy or willingness to punish. My mind set has been completely the opposite since the beginning of this negotiation and it will continue being so until the last day of the negotiation."   The Speech touches upon:

Thursday 8 February 2018

In the courts

Updated 13th February re Julian Assange 

A few recent cases .....

Venables -

In 1993, Jon Venables (aged 35) was convicted - along with Robert Thompson - of the murder of two-year old James Bulger.  The murder took place on 12th February 1993.  Thompson and Venables were aged 10 at the time and so had reached the age of criminal responsibility set by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.s50 (as amended).  This age was raised from 8 to 10 in 1963.  At the time of their trial the presumption of "doli incapax" applied though this was successfully rebutted by the prosecution.  This presumption was abolished by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.34.

Recently, Venables pleaded guilty to 3 counts of making indecent photographs of children - (Protection of Children Act 1978 s.1) - and one offence of possession of a paedophile manual - Serious Crime Act 2015 s.69.   On 7th February 2018, he was sentenced by Mr Justice Edis to a total of 40 months imprisonment.  Venables remains on lifelong licence in connection with the murder of James Bulger and it will be a matter for the Parole Board to decide whether it is safe to release him after he has served this latest sentence.  See the Sentencing Remarks via the Judiciary website.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Court of Session (Outer House) ~ Unilateral revocation of Art 50 notice

Court of Session Edinburgh
Update - see Good Law Project 9th February 2018 regarding an appeal and see Joint Note by Counsel for the Petitioners 

Scotland's Court of Session (Outer House) has refused permission to petitioners who sought judicial review on the issue of the unilateral revocability of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - see the opinion of Lord Doherty 6th February 2018.  There is a possibility that the decision will be appealed.

The petitioners wished to ascertain whether, as a matter of EU Law, a notification of withdrawal under Article 50 TEU may be unilaterally withdrawn by the State which gave the notification.  Legal opinion has varied considerably on this point - please see earlier posts 23rd July 2017 and 20th October 2017.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918

The Representation of the People Act 1918 came into law a century ago today (6th February) and gave to some women the right to vote.  The legislation came about after a lengthy and difficult political struggle and the contribution of women to the war effort during World War I played a major part.  The struggle and the campaigns by Suffragists and Suffragettes are well-described by Parliament - Women and the Vote. and also by HerStoria - An overview of the Votes for Women campaign.

The Representation of the People Act 1918  was, according to a contemporary author, the most successful piece of domestic legislation ever passed by Parliament.  Barrister Sylvain Mayer KC wrote in his book on the 1918 Act:

Intimidation in Public Life

In December 2017 the Committee on Standards in Public Life published a report - "Intimidation in Public Life" (Cm 9543).  The report was debated in the House of Commons on 18th December where the Home Secretary (Amber Rudd MP) said - "The report demonstrates that a significant proportion of candidates in the 2017 general election experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation, and that the widespread use of social media platforms is the most significant factor driving the behaviour that we are seeing. Worryingly, this is already affecting the ways in which MPs are relating to their constituents, and has put off candidates who would otherwise want to stand for public office."

The report points to "the increasing prevalence of intimidation of Parliamentary candidates, and others in public life."  "A significant proportion of candidates at the 2017 general election experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation.  There has been persistent, vile and shocking abuse, threatened violence including sexual violence, and damage to property."

Thursday 1 February 2018

Brexit - Constitution Committee Report - Delegated Powers, Scrutiny, Devolution

After two days of debate with 190 speakers, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 31st January - Hansard Online.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report published on 29th January is probably the most detailed available analysis of the Bill.  The report may be read via the Constitution Committee website - 9th Report Session 2017-19.   This follows the committee's preliminary (7th March 2017) and interim (7th September 2017) reports.