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House of Commons Hansard
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Leaving the EU: Justice
24 January 2017
Volume 620
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7. What assessment she has made of the implications for the justice system of the UK leaving the EU. [908344]

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10. What assessment she has made of the implications for her Department’s policies of the UK leaving the EU. [908348]

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We are determined to use the opportunities presented by our exit from the EU to build a truly global Britain. Our world-leading legal services contribute £25 billion per annum to the UK economy. My Department is leading the work on future co-operation with the EU on civil, commercial and family law, and, together with the Home Office, on criminal justice.

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I welcome the Prime Minister’s confirmation that we will be ceasing membership of the single market and thus ending the control of the European Court over this country. Does my right hon. Friend look forward to the day when the British courts are no longer undermined by European judges sitting in Luxembourg?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The UK has fantastic, independent and incorruptible judges, and we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, meaning that final decisions will be down to British judges.

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As with all things Brexit, we are facing a period of uncertainty around the recognition and enforcement of citizens’ rights associated with EU membership. What plans do the Government have to recognise the rights of parties in pending cases before the Court of Justice at the time of our departure from the EU?

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Such issues will be resolved in due course, and there will be a statement later today from my right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary.

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What can my right hon. Friend do to reassure the legal profession that contracts where the choice of law is English or Welsh law will continue to be enforceable across Europe, even after we have left the EU?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is a vital issue for our fantastic legal services profession—four of the top 10 international law firms are headed in the UK. I said this week at a joint meeting with the Lord Chief Justice and members of the legal profession that mutual enforcement of judgments will be a key part of our Brexit negotiations.

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Civil and criminal justice are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Does the Secretary of State for Justice agree with the conclusions of the first report of the Exiting the European Union Committee that the great repeal Bill must be dealt with in a way consistent with the existing devolution settlement, and does she accept, therefore, that the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament to the great repeal Bill will be required?

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I look forward to meeting the hon. and learned Lady to discuss the issues of the devolved Parliament. The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to strike a bespoke Brexit deal that works for the whole UK.

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Because civil and criminal justice are devolved, the triggering of article 50 will have major implications for the rights and freedoms of people in Scotland. Does the Secretary of State accept, therefore, that the Sewel convention will be engaged, and does she agree with the Supreme Court’s judgment this morning that the Sewel convention has an important role in facilitating harmonious relationships between the UK Parliament and the devolved legislature?

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As I said, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU are working closely with the Scottish Government, and the Government have been clear that they will respect the decision of the Court this morning.