UK asks EU to leave law relationships untouched by Brexit

LONDON • The UK wants to keep London at the centre of European commercial legal disputes after Brexit. Except, without the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

A paper published by the UK yesterday gave little detail about how this might be achieved, but it was clear that Britain doesn’t want to lose lucrative litigation business. Government officials pointed to a paper on the ECJ due to be published today as likely to give more detail on that aspect.

Instead, it focused on why such a deal would benefit both sides, pointing to the UK’s current close links with the European Union (EU). The danger for Britain is if EU members decide they want a larger share of international litigation business — according to the government, English law currently governs around 40% of global commercial arbitration cases.

“The optimum outcome for both sides will be an agreement reflecting our close existing relationship,” the document said. “Where litigating a cross-border case involving UK and EU parties under civil law, wherever it might take place, will be easier, cheaper and more efficient for all involved.”

The UK plans to continue its membership of international treaties that cover cross-border litigation, including the Hague Conventions focused on family disputes, and the Lugano Convention, which allows members of the European Free Trade Association to work with EU courts.

It will seek an agreement with the EU that allows “close and comprehensive” cross-border cooperation on a reciprocal basis, the paper said, and the new legal framework will “mirror closely the current EU system. — Bloomberg