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Senior lawyers hailed Theresa May’s Brexit speech on Friday, describing her proposal that UK courts take into account the judgments of the European Court of Justice as pragmatic.
Some lawyers had difficulty containing their enthusiasm for May’s performance in Florence. “The PM's speech was visionary and demands a response from her EU counterparts,” said Richard Eccles, a partner at the City of London law firm Bird & Bird, with a comment that No 10 spin doctors could have almost written for him.
“The demand for a two-year transition period will be welcomed by business, and it is essential that business gets some assurance of stability, especially given the way the negotiations have gone so far.”
Alexi Dimitriou, a competition specialist at Ashurst, was also enthusiastic, saying that May’s speech “shines a welcome light on some key elements of the UK's departure”. He added that her position regarding the future relationship between UK courts and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as “a pragmatic step in seeking to ensure the consistent interpretation of UK and EU law post-Brexit”.
However, Dimitriou warned that “as the EU views the ECJ and access to the single market as an indivisible package, it is difficult to see them agreeing that the supremacy of the ECJ should be limited during any implementation phase”.
Regarding the rights and status of the three million EU citizens in the UK, the prime minister suggested that the UK provide greater enforceability of arrangements in the UK Courts while still denying access to the ECJ.
Kate Newbury, an immigration lawyer at the London law firm Kingsley Napley, said: “Whilst it is encouraging that the UK government appear to be softening their stance, it is only an offer and falls short of the now urgent and necessary reassurance required to shore up the fears of those contemplating leaving the UK.”