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Motion A

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Commons Amendments – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 22nd January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Beith Lord Beith Liberal Democrat 5:45 pm, 22nd January 2020

I wonder if I might be allowed to follow the noble and learned Lord, since we are discussing the amendments to Clause 26. He made such a bold and ingenious attempt to provide the Government with a reasonable platform on which they could deal with this problem.

I am faced with words from the House of Commons that my amendment would not leave an appropriate means of dealing with

“the issue of domestic courts departing from the case law of the European Court after IP completion day”— but nor does the Bill as it stands. It relies on the use of a regulation-making power, under which any or all courts could be included, including lower courts which do not have the capacity to bind other courts and therefore can make many inconsistent decisions. It still leaves the Government with the power to, effectively, impose a different, unspecified test.

This is a very unsatisfactory situation, but the best thing that the Government can now do, since they have failed to accept either my amendment or that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, is think very carefully before proceeding, because there is already sufficient statutory provision in place in the 2018 withdrawal Act, under which the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justiciary can do the job of deciding to depart from European case law. Should the Government wish to extend that to some other courts, perhaps to appeal courts, they will probably find sympathy and support in the House, but should they try to bring forward proposals by way of regulations of the kind that were widely discussed by very experienced colleagues around the House, they will meet resistance at that stage.