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 counsel, 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 Stephen Fietta (+44(0)203 889 9801), Jiries Saadeh (+ 44 (0)20 3889 9792), or Laura Rees-Evans (+44(0)203 889 9808).

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 »

EU and UK publish their negotiating priorities (25 and 27 February 2020)   On 25 February and 27 February , the EU and the UK published respectively their negotiating mandate and approach to negotiations for the future relationship between the two parties. The two documents give an insight into the priorities of each party. This Brexit Insight identifies some key areas where the two documents evidence potential sticking points in the negotiations on the future partnership agreement. In a forthcoming Brexit Insight, we will take a closer look about what the two documents tell us about the EU and UK’s intentions regarding the protection of EU-UK investment. Read more »

UK Investment Protection Policy Post-Brexit (25 February 2020)   On 25 February 2020, Laura Rees-Evans spoke at a BIICL conference on "UK Investment Protection Policy Post-Brexit", hosted by Steptoe & Johnson LLP. For further details of the event, Read more »

The UK leaves the EU (31 January 2020)   At 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020, the UK left the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement has entered into force and now governs the relationship between the UK and the EU. In a series of posts that will follow, we will examine what this new relationship means for the UK, EU, third countries, and businesses. The Withdrawal Agreement is available here

Signature of the Withdrawal Agreement (24 January 2020)   On 23 January 2020, the British Parliament passed the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act, paving the way for the UK's signature and ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU (Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission) and UK (Prime Minister Boris Johnson) signed the Withdrawal Agreement on 24 January 2020. Read more »

Brexit and international agreements: the Withdrawal Agreement and beyond (January 2020)   On 23 January 2020, Laura Rees-Evans delivered a presentation to the Public International Law Discussion Group of the University of Oxford on "Brexit and international agreements: the Withdrawal Agreement and beyond". Read more »