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Leaving the EU: Justice System

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 25 April 2017

The Government are clear that they want a smooth and orderly exit from the EU. Legal certainty is fundamental to that, as is laid out in the great repeal Bill White Paper. We will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice so that our courts will be the ultimate arbiters of our laws.

The recognition of enforcement of judgments across the EU has benefited millions of citizens. Does the Justice Secretary agree with the Law Society of Scotland that if we leave the EU with no deal and return to pre-EU mechanisms, the likely outcome is that the weakest and the poorest in society will suffer, as the processes become costlier?

I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman that having mutual enforceability of judgments and civil judicial co-operation is very important, which is why we have made it a priority in the Brexit negotiations.

May I commend to the Secretary of State and to the House the Justice Committee’s report on the implications of leaving the European Union for the justice system, which was published last month? In particular, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, we stressed the importance, first, of continuing co-operation in criminal justice matters, including information sharing, the recognition of judgments and having proper transitional arrangements, so that commercial and civil justice sectors have certainty going forward.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about that, and I would add to that list by saying that family law co-operation is also extremely important. We are working very closely with the legal profession, a working group is looking at working with industry across Europe, and, as I have said, this is a key priority as part of our Brexit negotiations.

Does the Secretary of State share my concern that leaving the EU will weaken our power on extradition? She will know that I have been dealing with a case of someone who fled to Pakistan after killing 11 members of a family, and we have been working across Europe to try to bring this man back. He is now in prison in Pakistan. Will our getting out of the European Union hamper extradition in the future?

We are working very closely with the Home Office on criminal justice co-operation, and we want to secure a good deal, but it is important that we all get behind what the British people voted for and get a secure deal with the European Union.

11. Brexit will, in a new, deregulated environment, provide a great opportunity for legal services, but what plans do the Government have to support our legal services abroad after Brexit? (909804)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; four of the 10 top global legal firms are based here in the UK. We have huge opportunities to promote English law and Scots law, and we are working on a global Britain legal summit to bring together leading figures in the industry to promote what we do overseas.

My Bulgarian constituent murdered his wife by stabbing her to death 25 times in broad daylight. The Home Office has finally agreed to have him deported. Will the Secretary of State assure me that he will serve his full sentence in Bulgaria, both pre and post-Brexit?

It is important that that individual is brought to justice. That is part of how we organise our prisoner transfer agreements and it will be part of our Brexit discussions.

Does my right hon friend agree that we cannot remain part of the European single market because that would inevitably mean that the European Court of Justice would retain jurisdiction over us? That is exactly not what the British people voted for.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we are leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The ultimate arbiters of our laws will be our own courts here in the UK. That is incompatible with being in the single market.