Matrix/UKAEL seminar: 40 Years On – The Sovereignty Debate

As many of our readers will be aware, 40 years have passed since the accession of the UK to the (then) European Economic Community.  To mark that milestone, Matrix has organised a series of seminars exploring the role of EU law in our domestic legal system.  The series starts tomorrow morning, Thursday 7 March, with a seminar, jointly organised with the UK Association of European Law, on sovereignty.  The line-up is a stellar one: it features Sir Francis Jacobs (formerly an Advocate General of the Court of Justice); Sir Konrad Schiemann, who until very recently was the UK judge at the Court; and no less than three eminent Matrix members, Rhodri Thompson QC, Prof Takis Tridimas and Jessica Simor (who, we are delighted to say, has just been appointed a QC herself).

Matrix will be live-tweeting the event (@matrixchambers; #40yearson) for those of you who are interested in following proceedings, and in due course we hope to post at least a summary of the contributions.

Judicial Review and the European Courts: Working With Our Partners. Part 2

Rhodri Thompson QC

In the second of two posts considering the relationship between the UK courts and their EU and ECHR counterparts, Rhodri considers some of the differences between them and the implications for lawyers appearing before the supra-national courts.  The text of these posts is based on a speech given to the Butterworths’ Commercial Judicial Review and Regulatory Proceedings Conference 2012.

Areas of difference

In identifying five broad respects in which there is substantial common ground between the approach of common law judicial review and the European Courts, it would certainly be naïve to ignore the very substantial differences that exist, which I will mention briefly under three broad headings:

  • Overriding objectives and principles
  • Composition of the Court
  • Procedural issues: Standing, Evidence, Remedies, Hearings

It may strike some readers that I have not mentioned differences in substantive appraisal under domestic and EU and ECHR law – at least prior to 2000, there was a widespread perception that EU and ECHR law differed fundamentally in their use of general principles such as proportionality and the protection of legitimate expectations as against “good old” Wednesbury unreasonableness.  However, that difference seems to have reduced in significance as the administrative Courts have become increasingly familiar with the vocabulary and substantive requirements of the Court of Human Rights (For a discussion of this issue shortly before the entry into force of the Human Rights Act, see R v. Chief Constable of Sussex, ex p. ITF, in the judgments of Lord Slynn and Lord Cooke.)

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Judicial Review and the European Courts: Working With Our Partners. Part 1

Rhodri Thompson QC

In the first of two posts considering the relationship between the UK courts and their EU and ECHR counterparts, Rhodri Thompson QC reminds us of the fundamental constitutional structure of the EU and sets out some of the oft-overlooked similarities between domestic courts and the European courts.  In a second post, Rhodri will consider some of the differences between them and the implications for lawyers appearing before the supra-national courts.  The text of these posts is based on a speech given to the Butterworths’ Commercial Judicial Review and Regulatory Proceedings Conference 2012.

The relationship between the UK and European Courts, whilst well-trodden ground, has generated a great deal of heat and political controversy, at least in some quarters, and is undoubtedly one of the central legal issues of our time, as English lawyers in an age both of globalisation and of Euroscepticism.

Whether or not one is a fervent supporter of “ever closer union” between the peoples of Europe, there is no doubt that the United Kingdom is a European state, that the national economies of Europe are increasingly interlinked and that legal issues arising over a very wide field are now heavily influenced by the EU Treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In addition, in the narrower context of public law in the commercial field, EU law has a central importance:

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