Explanatory Notes

Clause 5: Exceptions to savings and incorporation

94 Clause 5 sets out two exceptions to the saving and incorporation (referred to as preservation and conversion in these notes) of EU law provided for under clauses 2, 3 and 4.

95 The first exception is the principle of supremacy of EU law (see paragraph 53 of these notes). The principle of supremacy means that domestic law must give way if it is inconsistent with EU law. In the UK this can mean that a court must disapply an Act of Parliament, or a rule of the common law, or strike down UK secondary legislation even if the domestic law was made after the relevant EU law.

96 The effect of subsections (1) and (2) is that this principle will not apply to legislation which is passed or made on or after exit day (an Act is passed when it receives Royal Assent). So, for example, if an Act of Parliament is passed on or after exit day which is inconsistent with EU law which is preserved or converted by the Bill (for example, a retained EU regulation), that new Act of Parliament will take precedence. Where, however, a conflict arises between pre-exit domestic legislation and retained EU law, subsection (2) provides that the principle of the supremacy of EU law will, where relevant, continue to apply as it did before exit. So, for example, a retained EU regulation would take precedence over pre-exit domestic legislation that is inconsistent with it. The principle would not, however, be relevant to provisions made by or under this Bill or to other legislation which is made in preparation for the UK's exit from the EU.

97 The principle of supremacy also means that domestic law must be interpreted, as far as possible, in accordance with EU law. So, for example, domestic law must be interpreted, as far as possible, in light of the wording and purpose of relevant directives. Whilst this duty will not apply to domestic legislation passed or made on or after exit day, subsection (2) preserves this duty in relation to domestic legislation passed or made before exit.

98 Finally, subsection (3) sets out that the principle of supremacy can continue to apply to pre-exit law which is amended on or after exit day where that accords with the intention of the modifications.

99 The second exception is the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Charter did not create new rights, but rather codified rights and principles which already existed in EU law. By converting the EU acquis into UK law, those underlying rights and principles will also be converted into UK law, as provided for in this Bill. References to the Charter in the domestic and CJEU case law which is being retained, are to be read as if they referred to the corresponding fundamental rights.

100 Given that the Charter did not create any new rights, subsection (5) makes clear that, whilst the Charter will not form part of domestic law after exit, this does not remove any underlying fundamental rights or principles which exist, and EU law which is converted will continue to be interpreted in light of those underlying rights and principles.

101 Subsection (6) provides that further limited exceptions to the preservation and conversion of EU law have effect, as set out in Schedule 1.


Prepared 13th July 2017