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Future impact of EU legislation affecting the aviation industry

04.08.2016 Aviation

Gillie Belsham

Gillie Belsham Global Head of Aviation, Partner

The EU has produced a large body of regulations affecting the aviation industry, including rules concerning workers’ rights, data protection, competition law, safety, security, environmental protection, airline insolvency. and passenger rights.

Currently EU law is incorporated directly into UK law by the European Communities Act 1972, which transposes EU law into UK domestic law, or indirectly by specific Acts of Parliament implementing EU obligations. An exit from the EU by the UK would require the role and status of EU law within the UK domestic legal system to be considered. These are the two scenarios:

Before exit

Until the UK exits from the EU, all EU rights and obligations will continue to apply. If any existing rights or obligations derived from EU law were to be repealed, obstructed or denied by a UK Government (or its emanations) during the period before exit,any party harmed by this would have rights to bring actions for damages and/or injunctions to enforce such EU rights or obligations.

After exit

After Brexit, the European Communities Act 1972 would be repealed. The results would be very complex as any rights or obligations derived from the pre-Brexit EU-inspired legislation enacted by the UK would continue to exist until these were abolished or modified by UK legislators.

Whether these EU inspired laws would continue to apply after Brexit would be a matter for the UK Parliament. A wholesale repeal would be immensely disruptive and, if substitute UK laws were not in place, the resulting vacuum would be highly damaging. It is more likely that Parliament would “nationalise” past EU-inspired laws and replace or amend them progressively with domestic UK laws after due consideration.

As regards any UK carrier providing air services within the remaining EU27 (assuming the necessary traffic rights were obtained), they would continue to be subject to applicable EU laws. 

Article authors:

Gillie Belsham

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