The UK government’s upcoming Brexit bill could remove the rights for UK citizens to sue Whitehall over issues such as pollution and workers’ rights.
According to The Times, legislation is being drawn up to prevent individuals and companies from bringing compensation claims against the government after the UK leaves the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
Under EU law, the Francovich principle was established in 1991 by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which allows citizens of EU member states to sue their respective governments for damages if their rights were infringed by the country failing to implement EU law.
Under this ruling, the government is liable to pay compensation for not implementing EU directives.
However, the Brexit bill could remove this right. According to the report, this would affect areas such as the environment, workers’ rights, and business regulation.
A clause in the bill says:
There is no right in domestic law on or after exit day to damages in accordance with the rule in Francovich.
Earlier this week, the UK’s most senior judge raised concerns about what will happen to ECJ rulings once Brexit happens.
David Neuberger, president of the UK’s Supreme Court, told the BBC:
If the United Kingdom parliament says we should take into account decisions of the ECJ then we will do so, if it says we shouldn’t then we won’t, and basically we will do what the statute says. If it doesn’t express clearly what the judges should do about decisions of the ECJ, then the judges will simply have to do their best. But to blame the judges for, as it were, making the law when parliament has failed to do so would be unfair.
The UK government told The Times that even if the Francovich principle is repealed, individuals would still be able to sue the government after Brexit however, it did not provide any details of how this would work.
The UK parliament is currently on recess so the bill won’t be debated until the MPs return to the house in September.