Bar Council: Parliament must have chance to scrutinise EU justice opt-out

12 July 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has called on the Government to allow Parliament to scrutinise its intention to opt-out of more than 130 EU criminal justice measures properly. This comes as a Motion to Approve the opt-out has been scheduled for Monday 15 July, rather than full parliamentary scrutiny.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"The impact of the Government's planned opt-out could be very significant for the UK. A House of Lords Committee found in April that the Government had not engaged sufficiently with stakeholders, and sadly that trend is continuing. 

"The Government says it will opt back into certain measures, but much of the analysis of the House of Lords EU Committee and the material produced by the Bar Council and others shows that there are considerable practical and financial problems raised by such an opt back.  The Government's explanation of its decision does not adequately deal with these points. At the very least we fear that opting back will impose serious delays and a cost on a system which the Government says it is trying to make leaner and more efficient.  

"Potentially far-reaching changes of this nature require full and proper parliamentary scrutiny. A short debate before a long recess is unlikely to provide that. 

"As we have said throughout this process, the Bar Council calls for full consideration of the issues raised.  On the basis of the analysis we submitted to the House of Lords EU Committee we suggest that the opt-out would be bad for the effective administration of justice. We believe that an opt-out will result in less efficient court processes and will have a negative effect on policing and judicial co-operation.

"We ask the Government to think again and give Parliament the opportunity to test and examine the full impact of the opt-out before continuing further."

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors:

1. For further information, please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

 The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.