Citizens’ rights of redress ‘threatened by Brexit Bill’

11 Aug 17

The Brexit Bill includes a provision that could strip UK citizens of the right to sue the government, campaigners have pointed out.

Currently, the UK is subject to rulings of the European Court of Justice, including the so-called Francovich rule, which has been part of EU law since 1991. It allows EU citizens the right to sue their respective governments for failing to implement EU law such as environmental law, workers rights and business regulation.

However The European Union Withdrawal Bill states: “There is no right in domestic law on or after exit day to damages in accordance with the rule in Francovich”.

This has sparked concern that this weakens the rights of citizens to seek redress if the government were to fail to uphold certain laws.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, said: “This is a shameless attempt to take away people's rights through the backdoor.
“Citizens must be able to hold the government to account when it breaks the rules.”

Martha Spurrier, director of the civil liberties group, Liberty, told The Times: “This chilling clause, buried deep in the Bill’s small print, would quietly take away one of the British people’s most vital tools for defending their rights,

“Putting the government above the law renders our legal protections meaningless. It exposes a clear agenda to water down our rights after Brexit.”

However, the government said the UK has a “longstanding tradition” of ensuring public rights and liberties are protected.

A government spokesman said: "The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU and that is exactly what we are doing.  The right to Francovich damages is linked to EU membership – the government therefore considers that this will no longer be relevant after we leave.

“After exit, under UK law it will still be possible for individuals to receive damages or compensation for any losses caused by breach of the law.”

 

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