As a result of the vote to leave the EU, the UK will cease to be a member of the EU probably around November 2018 after the new prime minister has invoked article 50 and Parliament has repealed the European Communities Act 1972. How will this affect shipping law?
Substantively, not a great deal. English dry shipping is based on common law, and a few key statutes, such as COGSA 1992, and the implementation of international carriage conventions through domestic legislation – such as COGSA 1971 with the Hague-Visby Rules. Nothing European here, so no change.
With wet shipping, the CLC and the Fund are part of our national law through domestic law implementing international conventions. Similarly, the Wreck Removal Convention, the Salvage Convention, and the 1976 Limitation Convention. Again, nothing European here, so plus ca change.
However, procedurally, we are very much affected by European legislation – and this is something we shall return to in a later post. As a starting point, bear in mind the two sources of EU legislation.
- Directives which are implemented by and Act of Parliament. On our leaving the EU it will be up to Parliament to decide whether to repeal or amend the implementing legislation.
- Directives which are implemented as statutory instruments pursuant to s.2 of the European Communities Act 1972. These will cease to be a part of national law once the European Communities Act 1972 has been repealed. If we want to keep them we need to enact them as part of our domestic law.
- Regulations which have direct effect. These will cease to be a part of national law once the European Communities Act 1972 has been repealed. If we want to keep Regulations we need to enact them as part of our domestic law.