Mixed reviews on latest Brexit paper to resolve cross-border legal wrangles

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-22 23:15:14|Editor: Zhou Xin
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LONDON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- In its fifth Brexit position paper on Tuesday, the British government outlined proposals for solving cross-border legal disputes after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEu) said families, businesses and individuals living and working across Britain and EU member states would be able to resolve disputes "in a clear and sensible way."

The new paper also covers plans for handling consumer disputes as well as those of businesses and investors.

The Institute of Directors (IOD) in London welcomed the proposals. Allie Renison, the institute's head of EU and trade policy, said businesses valued agreements between governments that give them certainty about the process if something goes wrong.

Regarding cross border disputes, Britain would be subject to the rulings of EU courts, according to the latest position paper.

"This would appear to contrast previous assertions from senior figures in the (British) government that the UK would have complete judicial independence," said the IOD in a commentary.

Justice Secretary David Lidington said in a media interview Tuesday that more people than ever living across borders. A good, effective system of EU law currently operates to decide which law was used, he said, but this would no longer apply in Britain after Brexit.

The position paper aims to make clear that agreeing on a system for future cooperation on civil justice matters is crucial for EU citizens living in Britain and UK citizens living in EU countries, and for the tens of thousands of businesses that buy, sell and invest across borders.

"These could relate to issues such as a small business that has been left out of pocket by a supplier based in another EU country, a consumer who wants to sue a business in another country for a defective product they have purchased online, or a person who needs to settle divorce, child custody or child maintenance issues with a family member who is living in a different EU country," said DExEu.

The government paper proposes to build on the existing foundation of cooperation and respect for the rule of law, and continue to collaborate at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

A government spokesperson added: "Close cooperation in this area isn't just in the interest of the UK citizens living in the EU, it's in the interest of the 3.2 million EU citizens living here in Britain."

But Keir Starmer, the Labour Party's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has criticized the government's Brexit policy papers, saying they offer precious little new information or concrete proposals.

Starmer said: "It is increasingly clear that the government are publishing bland, non-committal papers as a smokescreen to mask their failure to make any meaningful progress on phase one's core negotiating issues, including citizens' rights."

"The government should focus on reaching an early agreement to the first stage of talks and make an early commitment to establish strong transitional arrangements."

The publication of position papers are part of British government attempts to advance Brexit negotiations with Brussels to the next phase. The latest round of talks with European Brexit negotiators are due to start in a matter of days.