Legal implementation of Brexit

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 (“Brexit”), after which there was an 11 month transition period ending at 11pm (London time) on 31 December 2020 during which EU law continued to apply in the UK (“Transition Period”).

From 11pm on 31 December 2020, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“EUWA”) , as amended and supplemented by the Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020 (“WAA”) provided for:

  • EU law to cease to apply or have effect in the UK;
  • implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU;
  • the transposition of EU law existing at the end of the Transition Period into UK domestic law – described as ‘retained EU law’ – subject to amendment by various statutory instruments to ensure continued operation;
  • new UK legislation in areas of prior EU competence;
  • implementation into UK law of new UK international treaty obligations consequential on Brexit; and
  • other provisions, some implementing post-Brexit policy changes.

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the UK and EU which applies from the end of the Transition period was implemented into UK law by the  European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (“EUFRA”).

Implications of Brexit on UK telecoms, digital and data law

Brexit has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on UK law relating to the telecoms, digital and data sectors.

The law in each of these sectors has been progressively harmonised over time in pursuit of a broad policy of objective of breaking down barriers between European member states’ national markets.

Whilst the creation of ‘retained EU law‘ and the ability for UK court to continue to have regard (whilst not being bound) by EU case law after the end of the Transition Period could be viewed as providing continuity, a number of material consequences flow immediately and directly from the UK no longer being a member state of the EU (and not retaining membership of the single market or the customs union) and becoming a third country, whilst over time it seems likely that the law of the UK and the EU will increasingly diverge.

For more details see our detailed commentary: