The debates and discussions surrounding Brexit often have two prominent themes – firstly rights and freedoms and secondly the sovereignty or supremacy of UK constitutional actors. As a practising solicitor, this presents a great opportunity to reach up to the shelf and dust off an old text book.
My starting point is the Bill of Rights from 1688. This bill guaranteed freedom of expression and is still good law. It is not, however, our freedom of expression that is guaranteed. It is parliamentary freedom of expression, the idea of making parliament supreme over the judiciary or the monarchy – parliament is accountable to the electorate democratically – that is, we vote them in or out. It is not accountable to the judiciary for that which it discusses in its Houses. We cannot sue parliament for expressing something we dislike. The idea is that too much power does not sit with one body, be that the judges, parliament or the monarchy.
Brexit and the proposed Great Reform Bill will probably establish the supremacy of British Courts over decisions of the European Court. Yet the European Court rulings have been a weapon for our own judges to scrutinise parliament – what this will mean after Brexit remains to be seen. Why am I talking about this in the business section? Well, the changing constitution of the UK is being very carefully examined and will be watched with interest. Your business is the same, it has a constitution and it faces changes in external factors. Talk to us, see what your constitution is and whether it still works or will stand the winds of change.