There is growing discontent in the City of London over the likely impact of the Bill of Rights Bill on the UK’s economic competitiveness, the Law Society of England and Wales said yesterday as the Lord Chancellor faced questions about the bill from the Justice Select Committee.
International businesses are attracted to markets with clear and predictable legal systems, and while the market has been attractive to trade, it’s partly because our jurisdiction has provided that stability. But that could soon change, according to Law Society Vice President Nick Emmerson.
He is concerned that the Bill of Rights bill contains several provisions that would create “legal confusion and uncertainty”, giving companies some thought about how these changes – or future changes – might affect their interests.
He commented, “Law firms and other City stakeholders tell us that the bill would cast an additional veil of uncertainty over the interpretation and future application of established contractual provisions and arrangements. long-standing, widely used in international business.
“There are instances where companies themselves may have a claim under human rights law, in which case the bill could affect their ability to enforce their rights and obtain redress.
“Businesses and financial institutions go to great lengths to reduce or eliminate uncertainty and regularly demonstrate their willingness to choose one of English law’s competitors when levels of uncertainty surrounding the application of English law increase.
“The Bill’s measures that would change the relationship between the courts and Parliament are seen by businesses as removing the legal safeguards they use to protect their rights when dealing with the state.
“Given the extent of commercial relationships involving the state in one capacity or another, anything that reduces state liability for rights abuses would also impact the attractiveness of the UK in as a place to do business.
“For business, this not only means ‘big government’, but also overreach from local governments and regulators. Regulators play a major role in business and any weakening of companies’ ability to cope with excessive regulation would have a negative impact on the UK’s attractiveness to business.
Nick Emmerson warned against signaling companies to weaken the UK’s adherence to its international agreements.
He continued: “If the Bill of Rights Bill were to pass as it stood, it would give the UK government greater leeway to deviate from its international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
“The Bill could put the UK at greater risk of being found guilty of breaching the ECHR. It would send a clear message to global businesses that the UK is a riskier place to invest and do business. business.
The Rights Bill, combined with plans to eliminate any “remaining” EU law in the Retained EU Legislation Bill, could create a level of uncertainty that would seriously damage the UK’s economic competitiveness. United, according to Emmerson: “City lawyers who deal extensively with foreign clients, governments, regulators and representative bodies tell us that the Bill of Rights Bill is being discussed with a mixture of surprise and horror.
“The Bill gives our international competitors a stick with which to beat the reputation of British jurisdiction and win business.
“With the recent volatile reaction of global markets to UK government policy, it is imperative that they be assured that the UK remains a safe and stable place to do business, including by fundamentally rethinking the Bill of Rights Bill.”