EU court rulings 'could still influence UK cases after Brexit', says top judge

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The country’s most senior female judge has raised the prospect of new rulings by the European Court of Justice playing a role in determining British cases after Brexit as she warned that ministers faced a host of legal problems upon the UK leaving the EU.

Baroness Hale, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, said ministers had promised that existing European rulings would continue to be taken into account on existing “EU-derived” law that remained in place after Brexit.

But she said that British judges also needed to know how much weight to attach to future judgments by EU counterparts in Luxembourg because there would be new legal questions about existing laws to resolve after Britain quits the EU.

Her comments came in a speech in Cambridge in which she also suggested that the Supreme Court might need “special powers” to cope with legal challenges to the Government’s decisions.

Theresa May has insisted that European judges should no longer be able to exercise authority over British laws but Lady Hale, favourite to take over as President of the Supreme Court when Lord Neuberger retires this summer, said that in cases where EU legislation that had been incorporated into domestic law was unclear, future European judgments might affect the law.

“It would help to know how much weight we should give to European Court of Justice jurisprudence, not only as it existed at the date of Brexit, but also thereafter,” she said.

Lady Hale said areas in which EU rulings could continue to play a role included orders in family law cases.


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