The bench must make Brexit work, says top judge

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Dec 01, 2017
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Judges must put aside their own opinions about Britain leaving the EU, said the head of the Chancery Division of the High Court

Justin Tallis/AFP

The judiciary must make the justice system work after Brexit whether they are in favour of leaving the EU or not, one of the country’s most senior judges has said.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, who heads the Chancery Division of the High Court, said that judges “cannot and should not speak about the politics of Brexit”.

He added that judges were “not paid to decide what is good for the country. We leave that to the politicians. Instead, we have to deal with the hand of cards that are dealt.”

He added. “It is our duty to ensure that the justice system of England and Wales is as efficient and effective as possible to deal with the legal challenges created by the UK's departure from the EU.”

Lawyers and judges should aim to provide as good a service to business and other court users after Brexit as they did before, he added in a speech to a legal business seminar in Frankfurt. 

Points that needed to be addressed were serious, he said, adding that the “mainstream problems of citizens’ rights, the regulation of anticompetitive practices and the question of financial passporting and regulation, to name but a few are particularly important for businesses across the sectors, and across the EU, as well as in the UK”.

Sir Geoffrey said: “What judges can do is to point out to politicians the problems that need to be solved.

“They cannot solve those problems themselves or even attempt to draft the legislation that may deliver those solutions, because judges will have to interpret the laws that are put in place to achieve the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

He said that the different legal systems of Europe were not in competition, and wished the new English-speaking commercial court being established in Frankfurt every success.

“It is extremely important … that judges in different jurisdictions collaborate and co-operate with each other and exchange ideas and information about their justice systems. No justice system is superior,” he said.

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