Welcome to our Brexit Insights page.  Here we publish news and analysis by Fietta’s lawyers of developments arising out of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, as they relate to public international law.  In the lead up to the UK’s original departure date from the EU (March 2019), one of our senior associates, Laura Rees-Evans, spent six months at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office advising on public international law issues arising out of Brexit.  If you wish to discuss any of the issues addressed in these insights, or otherwise seek any advice regarding public international law issues arising out of Brexit, please contact (+44(0)203 889 9801), (+ 44 (0)20 3889 9792), or (+44(0)203 889 9808).

Spotlight on the UK Internal Market Bill (15 September 2020)   On 15 September 2020, LexisNexis republished Fietta LLP's "Spotlight on the UK Internal Market Bill" (first published on our Brexit Insights page on 11 September 2020) as part of its "public law analysis" service. The article is available in full here

Spotlight on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill (11 September 2020)   On 9 September, the Government published the “United Kingdom Internal Market Bill”. Its purpose is to make provision for customs and trade rules between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, after the transition period established under the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU comes to an end on 31 December 2020. The Government acknowledges that certain powers set out in the Bill “may be exercised in a way that is incompatible with provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement”. The EU has declared that, if adopted, the Bill would constitute an “extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law”. This spotlight looks in detail at the provisions of the Bill, the positions of both parties, and the mechanisms under the Withdrawal Agreement for resolving legal disputes between them. Read more »

Spotlight on UK Parliament committees seeking evidence on the UK’s trade negotiations (14 August 2020)   Two committees of the UK Parliament (one of the House of Lords, one of the House of Commons) are currently seeking evidence (views) on the UK's ongoing trade negotiations with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the US, as well as those with the EU. This spotlight identifies a number of questions they ask relating to investment protection, as well as the deadlines for submitting evidence. Read more »

Public International Law in the UK, post-Brexit (23 June 2020)   Laura Rees-Evans co-moderated a webinar on Public International Law in the UK, post-Brexit. Presented by a collection of “new voices” in PIL, the webinar explored a wide range of perspectives on the topic. A video recording of the webinar is available here

The UK has confirmed it will not extend the transition period (12 June 2020)   The UK's Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP, has announced in a tweet that he has formally confirmed in a meeting of the UK-EU Joint Committee established under the Withdrawal Agreement that "the UK will not extend the transition period & the moment for extension has now passed." This confirms both the political commitments the Government has repeatedly made that it will not request an extension of the transition period, as well as the default legal position under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (section 15A). The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, and new rules on trade, travel and business for the UK and EU will take effect from 1 January 2021. The UK Government guidance on preparing for the end of the transition period is available here

UK House of Lords Constitution Committee issues report on constitutional issues raised by Brexit legislation (9 June 2020)   The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published a report reflecting on "the legislative challenges of delivering Brexit so far and look[ing] ahead to those to come." The report observes that, post-withdrawal from the EU, the UK's legislative challenge has continued in relation to the need to legislate for "new policies in areas previously within the competence of the EU [...] and new relationships and trade deals with international partners." It also observes that the transfer of EU law into UK law (as "retained EU Law") has "resulted in a new and complex legal landscape". The Committee argues, in particular, that a power contained within the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 enabling ministers "to determine which courts may depart from CJEU case law and to give interpretive direction in relation to the meaning of retained EU law was—and remains—inappropriate". The full report is available here

Spotlight on the protection of EU-UK investment in the future partnership agreement (UPDATED 20 May 2020)   As anticipated in our Brexit Insight of late February 2020, this Insight provides an analysis of what we know so far about the EU and UK’s intentions for the protection of EU-UK investment in the future partnership agreement. This Insight was originally posted in April 2020, and has been updated in order to reflect the draft "negotiating document" published by the UK on 19 May 2020.  The Insight begins by setting out the legal framework applicable to the conclusion of international investment agreements by the EU and EU Member States.  It concludes that (1) it is highly likely that investment protection will be addressed in the future partnership agreement and not left to bilateral negotiations between the UK and individual EU Member States, and (2) investors who assumed, with the advent of Brexit, that they may be able to continue to rely on the UK’s existing intra-EU BITs, might begin to consider restructuring their investments. Read more »

European Commission launches infringement proceedings against the UK (14 May 2020)   The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against the UK for its decision not to sign the multilateral treaty terminating intra-EU BITs (the Termination Treaty) (see our Brexit Insight of 5 May, and related Insights of August and November 2019) and for "fail[ing] to engage in any discussion with the Member States concerned to proceed with the bilateral termination of [its] intra-EU BITs". The Commission has sent the UK and Finland, who also chose not to sign the Termination Treaty, a letter of formal notice. The formal notice is the first step in the infringement process. According to the European Commission's announcement of the infringement proceedings, the letter urges the UK "to take all necessary actions to urgently remove the intra-EU BITs from [its] legal order, bearing in mind their incompatibility with Union law". The Commission's announcement notes that "under the Withdrawal Agreement, EU law continues to apply to the United Kingdom during the transition period". The UK has four months to respond to the formal notice. The Commission's announcement is available (half way down the page) here

EU Member States sign intra-EU BIT Termination Agreement – the UK will not be a party (5 May 2020)   On 5 May 2020, 23 EU Member States signed the much-anticipated Agreement for the Termination of Bilateral Investment Treaties between the Member States of the European Union. The Agreement, whose text is in most part the same as the draft text leaked in October 2019, terminates existing intra-EU BITs between the Contracting Parties and establishes "transitional measures" for "pending arbitration proceedings". The UK, and four EU Member States (Austria, Ireland, Finland and Sweden), have not signed the agreement. This Insight discusses the implications for investors currently reliant on the UK's BITs with certain EU Member States. Read more »

Spotlight on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK-EU negotiations (updated 6 April 2020)   The ongoing coronavirus crisis is unsurprisingly having a significant impact on the negotiations between the UK and the EU on their future relationship following the end of the transition period established in the Withdrawal Agreement.  The agreed timetable of formal negotiations has already been affected by the rapid escalation of the virus, as the second negotiating round, originally scheduled for 18-20 March 2020 in London, was postponed.  This Brexit Insight explains the current status of negotiations and identifies possible impacts of the crisis on the timetable for the negotiations on the future relationship as a whole. Read more »