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Europe’s top court is unlikely to have a role in deciding disputes between the UK and the remaining EU countries after Brexit, a justice minister said yesterday.
However, Dominic Raab indicated that the UK Supreme Court was also unlikely to be the final arbiter in disputes involving EU citizens and businesses, and a separate dispute resolution forum would be created.
“It would be partisan and lopsided to allow either the UK Supreme Court or the ECJ [European Court of Justice] to settle international disputes between the UK and the EU,” he said.
“It would also conflict with the overwhelming international practice in dispute resolution, including the EU’s own practice.”
Raab added that, despite posturing during negotiations, EU officials recognised the strength of the argument in creating a separate dispute resolution forum.
“I know the EU accepts that position because you just have to look at their current approach. There is not one free trade agreement involving the EU currently where the ECJ is the forum for resolving disputes,” he said.
Raab added that there was “a wealth of global practice to guide us in this area” and that the EU recognised those international models.
Speaking to a meeting of business executives and senior lawyers at the Policy Exchange think tank in Westminster, Raab referred to the government’s position paper, which he said drew on global and EU practice.
Setting out a potential model for a new tribunal, he said: “A typical international dispute resolution procedure might involve a panel of three arbitrators: one appointed by the UK, one appointed by the EU and a third chosen by the UK and EU arbitrators.”
The justice minister also said he was confident that a deal could be struck over the recognition of professional qualifications between the UK and EU that would give City of London lawyers continued practice rights in the bloc.
He dismissed fears of a brain drain from the City. “Some of the scare stories about banking jobs going to the continent have not been borne out,” Raab said, claiming that “confidence in the City remains very strong”.
He pointed to figures published in September from the Global Financial Centres Index, which showed that London was the highest ranking global financial centre. “The gap between London and New York at number two [was] expanding,” he said, pointing out that “there isn’t an EU hub in the top ten”.