Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 12:39 pm, 12th March 2019

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his statement. I have no reason to disagree with his conclusion in paragraph 19 of his opinion, and I commend him for standing up for his office and speaking truth to power. However, I have one query about paragraph 7 of his advice, in which he describes the joint instrument as representing

“materially new legal obligations and commitments”.

He will of course be familiar with article 31, paragraph 2 of the Vienna convention, which says that such an instrument can have legal force and be binding only in the sense that the parties cannot later alter or deny what they have agreed and that it is not a treaty in itself. In those circumstances, is it not the case that the breaching of the best endeavours obligation in itself makes no difference? The only difference is if there is bad faith, and that in fact was contained in the original agreement that we signed.