Brexit: Helping you to prepare

The United Kingdom is to leave the European Union and Brexit, we are told, means Brexit.  But for the moment at least it seems the only certainty arising from the result of last June’s referendum is uncertainty.  The barristers of Doughty Street Chambers are anticipating the potential consequences of Brexit and, as always, are devising creative solutions for our clients. 

Our firmly held view is that BREXIT IS ABOUT PEOPLE, NOT JUST POLICY AND POLITICS.  We are on hand to provide you with advice on the law, with creative litigation strategies and advocacy in the UK and European courts and tribunals, as well as providing consultancy and by engaging with legislators and those who set regulations and policy.  We can help you understand and act on what Brexit means for you or your organisation.

You can view our Brexit brochure by clicking here. And for more information on the updates below please click on each entry’s title. You will also see our most recent Brexit blog posts, powered by Passle, on the right of this page.  For all our Brexit blog posts, please click here.

To learn more about our experience, or discuss how we may be able to help, please contact Maurice MacSweeney on +44 (0)20 7400 8906 or by e-mail.




Independent legal report on Brexit and Human Rights launched today in Westminster

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Angela Patrick, Katherine O'Byrne

The European United Left / Nordic Green Left ("GUE / NGL") Group of the European Parliament today launched an independent legal report on the Human Rights Implications of Withdrawal from the EU, authored by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Angela Patrick and Katie O'Byrne.

The report analyses the mechanics of the European Union (Withdrawal Bill), the Joint Report of negotiators, and the draft Legal Text published by the European Commission. The report finds that Brexit, and the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, will result in a significant shrinking of human rights protections for UK citizens generally, as well as UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, and for the people of Northern Ireland in particular.

The report provides concrete case study examples of the forms of rights regression that are likely to occur on Brexit across a number of different areas of law. It goes on to make recommendations to MEPs and negotiators on how human rights arguments might inform the future EU-UK relationship.

The report was launched at Westminster today and is available online here.


Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed

Far away from the main Brexit negotiations in London and Brussels are the British Overseas Territories. Dots on the global map whose people may be strongly affected - and who are struggling to make their voices heard. Chris Morris travels to Gibraltar to see what's at stake, and discovers too a hidden but vital Brexit story in the Caribbean.

Listen here.


European Parliament Study on the Implications of Brexit for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice in the EU coordinated by Associate Tenant, Susie Alegre, is published

Susie Alegre

The Study looks at some of the issues that will need to be discussed and considered in the next phase of negotiations - migration policy, judicial cooperation in family and criminal law, police cooperation and data protection for security and law enforcement.  It concludes that the impact of Brexit in these fields is complex and there may be a need for the EU to balance immediate operational needs with wider implications for policy development and greater integration in the EU in some areas. 

On an operational level, to ensure continued police and judicial cooperation is possible after Brexit, there is an urgent need to address some legal issues relating to cross-border cooperation including transitional arrangements around the European Arrest Warrant, whether at an institutional level (such as agreements with Eurojust) or on a bilateral level with Member States. The technical issues of transitional provisions to be included in the Withdrawal Agreement should be discussed as soon as possible in order to provide legal certainty for ongoing proceedings.

Many of the AFSJ areas affect the daily lives of people. Family law should not be considered an area of negotiation subject only to the principle of reciprocity. Whatever the UK position in this area might be, European families should not be held hostage to the political turbulence surrounding Brexit. The EU should explore ways of ensuring, to as great an extent as possible, legal certainty in the EU27 following Brexit.

The EU will need to bear in mind the implications of the decisions it makes on the AFSJ for the integrity of EU law. To ensure that Brexit does not weaken the foundations of the AFSJ itself, the importance of the role of the CJEU and the rights and principles set out in the EU Charter need to be fundamental.

Read the full study here.


Doughty Street Chambers members give evidence to House of Lords committee on Brexit and citizens’ rights

The House of Lords' EU Justice Sub-Committee is undertaking further work on citizens' rights after Brexit, following its 2016 Inquiry, Brexit: acquired rights. It has now published a range of evidence which it has recently received on these issues, including a submission from Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Susie Alegre. Their evidence summarises their key concerns regarding:

(a) The impact of Brexit on citizenship rights for all UK citizens;
(b) The particular issues arising in relation to citizenship rights in Northern Ireland; and
(c) The impact of Brexit on citizenship rights for EU nationals resident in the UK.

Caoilfhionn and Susie’s evidence is available here and a blogpost summarising it is available here.


Susie Alegre’s proposals endorsed by House of Lords EU Committee investigating Brexit and Crown Dependencies

Susie Alegre

The European Union Select Committee of the House of Lords today published its report on the impact of Brexit on the Crown Dependencies. It calls upon Government to remember its responsibilities to the Isle of Man, as well as the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. Although the Crown Dependencies are not part of the UK, nor are they part of the UK's membership of the EU, they do have an association with the EU as set out in Protocol 3 to the UK's Act of Accession. A result of Brexit will be that the current form of the relationship between the Crown Dependencies and the EU will cease. Susie Alegre, an expert on the law governing small States and their relationship with the UK and EU, was invited to provide evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee in January of this year, and the Committee endorsed a number of her proposals. To read more, and to view a copy of the report, please click here.


What are the constitutional consequences of Brexit?

Chatham House is hosting a talk on 8th March (details available by clicking here) to discuss the potential constitutional consequences of Brexit, in particular what it means for the devolved administrations, the logistics of triggering article 50, and the practical impact on Whitehall and Westminster. On the panel of speakers, alongside former Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, will be Doughty Street’s Rowena Moffatt, a public law barrister with particular experience of EU issues. Rowena co-authored a paper for The Constitution Society entitled Brexit: The Immediate Legal Consqeuences. You can read that paper by clicking here.


Doughty Street’s Professor Colin Harvey and Queen’s University Belfast publish Brexit resource

Colin Harvey, Professor of Human Rights Law at Queen’s University, Belfast, and a member of the Academic Expert panel of Doughty Street Chambers, is a contributing author to a helpful resource, the Queen’s Brexit Resource Guide, which comprises articles by the university’s academics on the subject of Brexit. The Guide’s articles cover a wide range of Brexit related issues including trade, devolution, and the impact on the border between both countries of the island of Ireland.

There is grave concern in both the Republic and Northern Ireland about Brexit, with it being one reason cited in the recent resignation of the deputy First Minister and consequent collapse of the government. Professor Harvey speaks and writes regularly on the topic; you can read more on one event at which he spoke recently, hosted by the Law Society of Northern Ireland and the Irish Centre for European Law by clicking here and here.


Sir Keir Starmer KCB QC’s speech on Human Rights After Brexit

Sir Keir Starmer KCB QC was invited to give the annual Eleanor Roosevelt Lecture at the Institute of the Americas, based at University College London. In his speech he noted Eleanor Roosevelt’s internationalist outlook and her extraordinary legacy to humanity, which must be fought for. In addition, he argues we must fight against current threats to human rights posed by – amongst other things – Brexit. The full text of his speech, on “Human Rights After Brexit”, can be found by clicking here.


British Government agrees to consider the position of the British Overseas Territories in Brexit negotiations

The premier of the Cayman Islands announced he has had assurances from the British Government that the interests of the British Overseas Territories will be taken under consideration when it commences Brexit negotiations. You can read more on the particular areas of concern of the Cayman Islands by clicking here. Doughty Street Chambers has long held a concern that the rights of those living in the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are not being properly considered by the British Government. You can read more in Susie Alegre’s blog posts which can be accessed here and here, as well as in the report she submitted to the House of Lords during its inquiries in this area.


The Impact of Brexit on Gibraltar and the Crown Dependencies

Susie Alegre

EU specialist and human rights lawyer Susie Alegre was invited to provide evidence to the House of Lords Brexit inquiries. Read more about her evidence on the potential impact of Brexit on Gibraltar, as well as on the Crown Dependencies. The rights of those living in the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories must be protected, allowing them an ability to decide their own affairs whilst also retaining their strong ties to the UK.


The Politician and the Judge: Geoffrey Robertson QC on BBC Radio 4

Geoffrey Robertson QC is a leading constitutional lawyer, author and Joint Head of Doughty Street Chambers. In the lead up to the Supreme Court handing down its judgment in the Miller and Dos Santos case the BBC aired his programme, as part of the “Archive on Four” series, on the importance of the independence of the judiciary, and lessons from history on clashes between Judges and Governments.


What could Brexit mean for human rights law in the UK?

Angela Patrick

“Mapping the Great Repeal” is a major report by Doughty Street’s Angela Patrick, commissioned by the Thomas Paine Initiative, in which she sets out that while there are many legal, political and diplomatic steps to Brexit, assessing the implication for individual rights of the UK’s departure from the Union will be crucial both during the progress of the negotiations and the consideration of any Great Repeal Bill.


Brexit: Fundamental Rights not for Bargaining

Angela Patrick, Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Katherine O'Byrne, Susie Alegre

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today urges the Government not to use fundamental rights as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations (Brexit and Fundamental Rights).  This is the latest in a series of reports from Parliamentary committees exploring the potential impact of Brexit including the implications for individual rights. So far, the analysis is limited in the absence of any clear Government plan on what Brexit will mean in practice.


House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee report published, Brexit: Acquired Rights

Susie Alegre

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee report, Brexit: Acquired Rights, was published this week. 


Brexit and Human Rights: Doughty Street barristers give evidence to Joint Committee on Human Rights

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Katherine O'Byrne, Susie Alegre

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is currently considering the impact of the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU on the human rights framework and protection of human rights in the UK.


Brexit and a British Bill of Rights: are our human rights under threat? - LexisNexis article

Jonathan Cooper OBE

Recently Jonathan Cooper OBE was interviewed by LexisNexis for the article "Brexit and a British Bill of Rights: are our human rights under threat?".





Government reported to be facing defeat over lack of protections for EU nationals in Brexit Bill

As the Brexit Bill returns to the House of Lords for Committee stage, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC analyses the up-to-date position on rights of EU nationals during, and prior to, Brexit negotiations. Click here to read Caoilfhionn's article.


Brexit - Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – No man is an Island

Susie Alegre notes the observations made on the United Kingdom in July by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in relation to the ESC rights issues that British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will need to grapple with following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, and the significant and unexpected consequences they may now face.


Brexit: Shock Waves Offshore

Susie Alegre considers the future for the relationship between Europe and the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies following the 23rd June referendum result.

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