UK seeks new powers for judges to reject EU court rulings

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson | Leon Neal/Getty Images

UK seeks new powers for judges to reject EU court rulings

Downing Street dismissed suggestions the move could allow the government to water down EU safeguards.

By and

12/18/19, 2:42 PM CET

Updated 12/18/19, 2:44 PM CET

LONDON — Boris Johnson will seek to increase the power of U.K. courts to overrule the Court of Justice of the European Union, Downing Street confirmed.

The prime minister will insert a clause into his Withdrawal Agreement Bill which will allow lower courts to reject CJEU rulings in order to help Britain to “take back control of our laws,” a Number 10 spokesman said.

The plan would make ineffective Theresa May’s decision — arrived at after much painful political and legal wrangling in 2018 — to put only the U.K.’s top courts on the same legal footing as the CJEU.

As part of the 2018 EU Withdrawal Bill, May’s government granted the power to “depart” from EU case law only with the Supreme Court in England and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland.

But confirming the change of plan, the Downing Street spokesman said: “The bill will ensure that the Supreme Court is not the only institution able to consider retaining European Court of Justice rulings. This is an important change, which will ensure that we do not face a legal bottleneck and inadvertently stay bound by EU rulings for many years.”

The legal change threatens to create considerable “judicial disquiet,” according to Catherine Barnard,

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