Before starting it should be said this article is not about the legal nature of the Brexit vote itself – this is purely about how the vote to leave the EU could potentially affect UK citizens legally and what you should be aware of.
A lot of current UK law is based on EU law. For example, a lot of legal rights such as holiday pay and notice are tied to EU directives. However, if the UK decides to join the EEA in order to continue trading with Europe this could well mean that the UK has to continue to accept these rules despite not being governed by the EU directly.
In some cases, there is also the concern of what will happen to issues such as protected status – until recently products such as Cornish pasties and Stilton cheese had the same protection as Parma ham and other products, meaning that products from outside those regions cannot use that name.
One sticking point is the European Convention on Human Rights – some fear that because the UK has left the EU that there is the potential for people to lose those rights as they are no longer EU citizens.
However, it should be stated that this is part of UK law and technically not a part of the EU – therefore there should not be significant changes and it is likely that UK law will still be affected by this (it is part of the 1998 Human Rights Act).
While some have called for a UK Bill of Rights to replace this it could be complicated by the Good Friday agreement as the rights in the European Convention are written into it.
There have been some concerns regarding consumer issues following the Brexit vote. For example, in 2012 the EU Gender Directive was brought in to ensure there was no discrimination between men and women when it came to calculating insurance costs. However, a recent statement from the AA suggests that this is unlikely to be reversed as it could cause a potential backlash.
Flight delay compensation could also be affected – under EU rules you can get up to 250 euros if a flight is delayed whereas currently no such legislation exists in UK law.
One area where people have seen potential benefits from Brexit is more control in terms of taxes (for example pre-Brexit there was a restriction on what could or could not be taxed, including a controversial tax on feminine hygiene products, although this was later axed after an appeal to the EU).
It is of course hard to predict the future when it comes to changes in legislation and law, something that happens on a fairly regular basis. While some may welcome the increased flexibility of the UK to govern its own laws there is the fear that some rights that have been protected by the EU may not be available in future.
If you are concerned about how the changes post Brexit could potentially affect you or your business, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your individual circumstances with you in more detail.