Enhancing the rule of law to ensure the UK remains competitive post-Brexit
The Rule of Law
Everybody has a part to play
A new report on the opportunity to enhance the UK’s competitiveness post-Brexit by enhancing the rule of law.
Whatever one’s views on the merits of Brexit, from the perspective of the rule of law it presents both a threat and an opportunity. Over the next few years, a huge amount of UK law will be changed, not least in respect of transposing EU legislation into UK law. The complexity of this task means that there also unprecedented political and commercial attention being paid the UK’s legal system. This task, and this attention, gives the UK the opportunity not only to change individual laws, but also to enhance the rule of law itself.
“[This] excellent report… is a valuable contribution to the debate on Brexit, and it demonstrates the hard-work that is going into preparing for Brexit amongst the legal profession.”
The rule of law produces the confidence necessary for long-term investment – the basis for commercial certainty. Improving an economy’s competitiveness drives the growth of that economy and ultimately the performance of its businesses and the prosperity of its people.
In our new report, “Everyone Has A Part To Play”, we suggest that all parts of the UK's political system – Parliament, the government, regulators, the judiciary – as well as the wider business community can play a part in enhancing the rule of law in the UK.
Explore the report
Respecting and enhancing the rule of law is not something that can be achieved by simply listing everything that needs to be done, taking the necessary actions and then sitting back and basking in the satisfaction of a job well done. It is a never-ending process and one which will always involve clashes of policy considerations, prioritisation, compromise and imperfection. Nonetheless, we suggest that there are a number of things that can and should be done in the immediate future in order to improve the position in the UK and thus the UK’s economic competitiveness.
Our report suggests that everyone – Parliament, the government, various regulators, the judiciary and the wider business community – has a role to play in improving the rule of law.
What can the Parliament do?
Parliament can enhance the rule of law by:
Establishing an appropriate balance between primary legislation, secondary legislation and guidance.
Improving Parliamentary processes.
Improving Parliamentary capacity.
Investing in professional development and expert support.
Considering more radical approaches, such as the use of incentives.
Increasing vigilance in relation to rule of law issues.
What can the Government and Regulators do?
The government and regulators can enhance the rule of law by:
Improving legal and regulatory predictability.
Avoiding excessive executive and regulatory discretion.
Maintaining the quality of the UK’s judges.
Increasing legislative drafting capacity.
Making the law more accessible.
Reducing the volume of legislation and regulation.
Signposting the direction of travel.
What can the Judiciary do?
The judiciary can enhance the rule of law by:
Continuing as now to hold to account those exercising executive and regulatory power, to restrain the arbitrary exercise of power and to defend public and private rights.
Avoiding excessive judicial “activism”.
What can Business do?
Business can enhance the rule of law by:
Respecting the rule of law.
Supporting the rule of law.
Joining relevant business networks.
Engaging in public education.
Brexit will not at a stroke give the UK the ability completely to change its laws, and such wholesale change would in any event be undesirable. But it will provide a once in a generation opportunity to make material improvements.
This opportunity needs to be seized. The policy balance reflected in our laws needs to be tilted back towards respect for the rule of law, and thereby support the UK’s continuing and growing prosperity post-Brexit by providing businesses with the certainty and fairness they need to invest, employ and transact in the UK.
“This new report is an important reminder that the rule of law isn’t the sole responsibility of one part of the UK’s political system. Politicians and parliament certainly have their role to play, as well as regulators, the judiciary
and the wider business community.”
“The quality of legislative scrutiny undertaken by Parliament is vital to the rule of law. This report is a helpful contribution to the debate about the role that Parliament, and other institutions across the political and business landscape, can and should play in supporting the rule of law in the future.”
"The strength of the rule of law in the UK is one of the fundamental factors that has driven businesses to invest and succeed here. As this report suggests, businesses don’t just have to be passive beneficiaries of the rule of law. They can play their part in enhancing the rule of law alongside Parliament, policymakers and the judiciary, not only for economic success but also to benefit wider society.”
“The UK’s world-class legal services sector is a vital national asset. It is an integral and crucial part of the ecosystem which makes the UK a truly, globally-leading international financial centre. This report is an important and timely reminder that strengthening the rule of law is an opportunity to underpin and enable not only financial services, but also the UK’s economy more widely post-Brexit.”
“Brexit only makes it more important to reassert the UK as the home of a fair, robust and stable legal system for international business. This is essential for our capital’s economic competitiveness, and government must ensure the Rule of Law stays firm, as it navigates post-Brexit legal territory.”
“The Rule of Law is a culture which must be nurtured and actively promoted. This Report makes clear that this is a shared responsibility. It is not just the task of courts and lawyers. Governments, parliaments, businesses all have an important role to play in ensuring that the Rule of Law is not only defended but positively advanced.”