UK (GB) laws after Brexit

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Summary

  • The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020, but remained under EU law during the Transition period in 2020.
  • All EU-only regulations were transposed into UK law, effective 31st December 2020, when the Transition Period ended.
  • Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, a second set of regulations have removed Northern Ireland back into EU regulatory control (this may be a temporary arrangement).This means that there currently two regulations covering the legal situation for the whole of the UK, plus any amendments to GB law which may occur.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREA covered

GB laws cover mainland GB and its associated islands, excluding Northern Ireland, which is currently covered by EU regulations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Together, all these territories make up the United Kingdom.

How the EU regulations were transposed into UK and GB law

The Withdrawal Act is a treaty between the EU and UK, but in order to bring specific directly-acting EU regulations into UK law, they had also to be brought in directly.

All EU-only regulations were transposed into UK law, effective 31st December 2020, when the Transition Period ended.

This was carried out by a series of Statutory Instruments, under the term “lift and shift”.  It was all EU-only regulations, not just those affecting chemicals.

Then, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, a second set of Statutory Instruments removed Northern Ireland back into EU regulatory control (this may be a temporary arrangement, depending on how long the Withdrawal Agreement lasts).

This means that, as far as we can tell, there currently a minimum of two regulations covering each directly acting EU regulation:

  • one to bring the EU law as-is (with any tweaks to refer to GB law, or cope with GB law)
  • a second one to take Northern Ireland back out under the Protocol

What happens with changes?

In order to make changes to the adopted EU laws, the implementing legislation bringing it into effect on Brexit needs to be updated first; and then these updates need to be made to the underlying EU regulations themselves.

Complicated doesn’t begin to describe it….

And we still are unclear (July 2021) whether we’re going to copy all EU chemical regulations exactly, or whether we will go our own way.

GENERAL GB CHEMICALS GUIDANCE

The HSE have a chemicals overview here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/chemicals/legislation.htm

Previous Northern Ireland Protocol