Brexit-Related Primary Legislation

There have been several Acts to date, but the two most important for legal purposes are the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.

European Union (Withdrawl) Act 2018 (EUWA)

The EUWA (as amended by the WAA) includes provisions that:

  • Repealed the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA 1972) on 'exit day'. The ECA 1972 enabled EU law to become part of UK law, and gave effect to the principles of direct effect and the supremacy of EU law.
  • On exit day, saved the effect of most of the ECA 1972 (in modified form), and saved and modified EU-derived domestic legislation for the duration of the transition period.
  • Create a new body of retained EU law at the end of the transition period – this is a snapshot of the EU law that applied in the UK as at 31 December 2020, which becomes part of the UK's domestic legal framework going forward. This means that the UK can start to amend this body of law as it sees fit, so UK law may start to diverge from EU law.
  • Confer various powers on the government to make secondary legislation, including the correcting power in section 8 to make regulations to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
  • Provide for the general implementation, through automatic incorporation into UK law, of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement and the UK's agreements with Switzerland and the EEA EFTA states; and enable rights and obligations arising under the withdrawal agreement, and EU law applied to the UK by the withdrawal agreement, to have supremacy over any inconsistent UK law.
  • Address the use of CJEU rulings by UK courts when interpreting retained EU law, subject to the terms of the withdrawal agreement (section 6).

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