Brexit: Rule Brittania

Two Law Lords have recently entered the public arena on Brexit, highlighting the opportunities and challenges which Brexit brings.

In a speech delivered to the Australian Bar Association Biennial Conference on 03 July 2017, the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, was upbeat. He assured his audience that, “left, once again, to our own common law devices,” Britain would “be able to react more quickly and freely to developments in our fast-changing world.” Indeed, Brexit would be a “spur” to delivering even better legal services.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, also sounded positive when he delivered a speech at the Mansion House just two days later. He sought to quash “rumours” that Brexit might affect the quality or certainty of English law, its courts or arbitration centres. “All the key features that made London into the leading centre for dispute resolution,” he said, “will continue unchanged.”

But Lord Thomas also had a warning for the Government.

He called for urgent clarification on three key issues: first, applicable law, which he suggested should be secured through incorporating the provisions of Rome I and II into English law; second, respect for choice of jurisdiction clauses, which could be achieved through the UK acceding as a contracting State to The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements; and, third, ensuring that there is a simple and flexible regime for the mutual recognition of enforcement of judgments.

The Government’s response is awaited with interest.

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