The UK participates in some, but not all, of the EU’s policing and criminal justice policies. Extraditing foreign nationals to face charges in other EU countries, and bringing back those suspected of crimes in the UK, is facilitated by the European Arrest Warrant. Those convicted of crimes abroad may, in some cases, serve their sentences at home under the Prisoner Transfer Framework Decision. The UK’s policing and judicial leadership has access to pan-EU collaboration through Europol and Eurojust. The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) enables the UK to access information on the previous convictions of EU nationals. Future involvement with these schemes will be subject to negotiation.
There is a significant body of EU law dealing with the handling of cross-border legal disputes, such as the ‘Brussels Regulations’ covering civil, commercial and family matters. Post-Brexit, this EU legislation will not automatically apply to the UK (though much underlying international law will remain). Removing it would affect, for example, the jurisdiction of UK courts to deal with disputes as well as the enforceability of English and Welsh judgments in other member states (and vice versa). Family cases often benefit from such jurisdictional legislation. It would create challenges, but also opportunities, particularly in commercial law dispute resolution.
Legal services in England and Wales contributed £25.7 billion to the UK’s economy in 2015. Cross-border practising rights and mutual accreditation of qualifications are valued by firms and practitioners. For many, their prosperity is linked to the financial sector, itself faced with uncertainty and a need for adjustment—particularly with respect to ‘passporting’. The Committee intends to identify threats and opportunities for the future of the legal sector in England and Wales arising from Brexit.
Call for evidence
The Committee invites written submissions of no more than 3,000 words in length; the deadline for these is Friday, 11 November 2016.
The Committee will then hold oral evidence sessions, with the intention of producing a report to inform the Government's Brexit negotiations.
The specific terms of reference which submissions should address are as follows:
"The implications of Brexit for the justice system
The Justice Committee has decided to hold an inquiry into the implications of Brexit for the justice system in England and Wales. The purpose of the inquiry is to establish those questions affecting the justice system which it will be essential for the Government to resolve during its negotiations on the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union, and not to revisit arguments for and against that departure. The Committee is interested in views on the likely effects of Brexit on the processes of criminal and civil justice, as well as views on the financial effects on the legal sector and business and the economy more widely, and on steps which should be taken in the process of Brexit negotiations or by other means to minimise any adverse effects and enhance any positive effects.
The Committee would welcome written submissions providing views on the implications of Brexit for:
- the criminal justice system in England and Wales and future co-operation in policing and judicial matters with EU member states and agencies, including Europol and Eurojust;
- the civil justice system in England and Wales, including the Family Court and commercial courts; and/or
- the legal services sector in England and Wales and the wider UK economy."
The deadline for submissions to this inquiry is Friday 11 November 2016.
Please note that the Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched a separate inquiry into the human rights implications of Brexit.