As the EU referendum date draws ever closer, we at JMR Solicitors have been asked a variety of questions regarding the legal standpoint of the UK if we were to leave the EU.
Firstly, a considerable amount of UK legislation is tied to the EU, which means that is we were to leave the EU Britain could effectively get rid of this legislation. Until the decision is made, it is impossible to say what will become of the legislation currently governing UK law.
The affected areas that have raised the most concern with our clients has been immigration law, family law and employment law.
Many EU citizens currently reside in the UK and are now becoming increasingly concerned about their status if Britain is to leave the EU. Our advice is that we cannot say for certain what Britain’s policy will be if we were to leave the EU, and how soon any policy would be imposed. However, we will advise that any EU citizen who has legally resided in the UK for 5 years or longer and who wishes to continue to reside in the UK is eligible to make an application for a permanent residence card which will entitle you to continue your residence.
Family law is also tightly connected to EU legislation. The Bar Council have published an independent report on how an EU exit could affect UK law, and they have reported that EU measures have had a significant, beneficial impact on family law. EU measures have made the process of divorce and maintenance more uniform and easier to implicate, and the report suggests that an EU exit could cause disruption and confusion to the family courts. The report continued: ‘It would be particularly difficult for the English family courts to cope with, at a time when (a) legal aid has been greatly reduced in this field and many more litigants are not legally represented; and (b) the family courts are undergoing and/or adjusting to major structural changes.’
Much of the UKs employment law is governed by EU legislation. If we were to leave the EU, Britain’s parliament would have to decide which EU legislation it would want to keep and which ones that it would want to reject. Chambers-ranked employment barrister Charlotte Davies of Littleton Chambers has stated “Lots of employment laws which have derived from Europe are now ingrained into UK culture and business practices. Therefore the government would have to be aware of the political sensitivities of making any big changes.” This would mean that employment areas such as discrimination would likely remain untouched; however agency worker regulations may undergo an overhaul. Furthermore, many businesses are now used to practicing within the existing laws and any major changes would likely cause huge uncertainty. This would mean that the more unpopular areas of EU worker law such as the Working Time Directive are unlikely to face big changes.
With only days left until the referendum, what are your most pressing concerns about our EU status?