Reflections on the HS2 case: a hierarchy of domestic constitutional norms and the qualified primacy of EU law

The Supreme Court’s welcome attack on the Court of Justice

British Government and the Constitution

The UK Supreme Court’s judgment in the HS2 case marks the year’s first big constitutional case. The case was brought by campaign groups hostile to (or otherwise critical of) the Government’s plans for a new high-speed rail-link between London, the Midlands, the north of England and (perhaps, one of these days) Scotland. (In a stroke of unintended irony I read the judgment on a Virgin Pendolino yesterday travelling from Euston to Glasgow, a journey which at the moment takes about four and a half hours.) The claim was that the Government’s chosen means of implementing HS2 were incompatible with EU law governing the “environmental impact” of planning decisions. A panel of seven Justices of the Supreme Court was unanimous in holding that there was no breach of the EU directives and that, in the circumstances, there was no need for the matter to be referred to the Court of Justice…

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Is Lord Neuberger right to suggest that the UK “has no constitution”?

Public Law for Everyone

Lord Neuberger, the President of the UK Supreme Court, gave an erudite and thoughtful lecture on the subject of “The British and Europe” last night. Delivering the inaugural Freshfields Annual Law Lecture in the Cambridge Faculty of Law, Neuberger sought to situate the present debate about Britain’s relationship with Europe in its historical, political and legal context. I will make no attempt to summarize what he said; the full text of the lecture can be accessed via the Supreme Court’s website. Suffice to say that the general thrust of the argument was that British attitudes to matters European are attributable to a form of exceptionalism that may be built upon myth as much as reality. For instance, said Neuberger, “[T]he idea that English law developed as a self-contained system is quite misconceived.” It followed, he suggested, that concerns about European law constituting an alien influence placing the pristine integrity…

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So Directive 2005/36 is now amended by the new modernising Directive

Updates are overdue, the new Directive amends 2005/36 in substantive ways

It came into force on 17 January 2014

 

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