Brexit, Human Rights and Access to Justice: YLAL Midlands event on 9 May 2019

On Thursday 9 May 2019, YLAL Midlands hosted an event on Brexit, Human Rights and Access to Justice at the Irwin Mitchell office in Birmingham.

YLAL co-chair Oliver Carter introduced the event and gave a presentation on key Brexit-related litigation, including the Miller, Wightman and Wilson cases, and the possible impact of leaving that leaving the European Union will have on human rights and access to justice in the UK. Ollie’s slides are attached at the bottom of this page.

We were delighted to be joined by Dr Marianne Wade, reader in criminal justice at Birmingham Law School, Director of the Institute of Judicial Administration and Co-Director (Law) of the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing. Dr Wade spoke primarily about co-operation within the EU in relation to criminal justice, and what could change after Brexit. 

Dr Wade started by discussing the foundation of the EU as a means of binding France and Germany together and reducing the risk of future conflict following the Second World War. Dr Wade explained that this developed into a political union. In relation to criminal justice and counter-terrorism, Dr Wade identified the 9/11 attacks as a turning point, following which the European Arrest Warrant was introduced in 2002.

Dr Wade also spoke about police and judicial co-operation within the  EU, explaining that we don’t yet know how Brexit will affect the UK’s co-operation with EU member states in these areas. The UK government published a White Ppaer saying that a multilateral treaty after Brexit should “build on” the rights we have, although the focus of the government appears to be on ‘liberty-restricting’ measures rather than ‘liberty-protecting’ measures.

Dr Wade pointed to recent events which call into question the government’s commitment to the rule of law, including Windrush, the ‘deport first, appeal later’ provisions, and the Home Office claims of widespread cheating on English tests. The government’s stance appears to be that human rights standards are something to be negotiated and reduced, and this may not bode well for human rights and access to justice after Brexit.

After Dr Wade’s talk, there was a lively question and answer session which covered issues such as the Northern Irish border and the rights of EU migrants after Brexit.

YLAL Midlands would like to thank everyone for joining us!