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English Legal System

English Legal System (5th edn)

Helen Rutherford, Birju Kotecha, and Angela Macfarlane
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date: 22 March 2023

p. 2116. The law and institutions of the European Union (EU)locked

p. 2116. The law and institutions of the European Union (EU)locked

  • Helen Rutherford, Helen RutherfordSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University
  • Birju KotechaBirju KotechaSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University
  •  and Angela MacFarlaneAngela MacFarlaneSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University


After the ‘Brexit’ referendum the UK left the European Union (EU) at the end of January 2020. Whilst the UK is now no longer a Member State of the EU, the UK’s membership had a significant influence on the English legal system. This chapter looks at the impact of EU membership on the English legal system including its effect on law-making institutions such as Parliament. It examines the consequences of the UK’s recent withdrawal, including the effect of important legislation such as the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. The chapter offers very useful background reading on how EU law is made, interpreted, and applied in Member States. The EU is administered by several supranational institutions including the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The main sources of EU law are: primary legislation, i.e. the treaties; secondary legislation, including regulations and directives; and the case law of the CJEU. Where EU law and national law conflict, EU law is supreme. EU law may have direct effect, i.e. be enforceable by individuals before national courts, or indirect effect, where national courts are obliged to interpret national legislation and case law, so far as possible to conform with a relevant directive. State liability for breaches of EU law means that Member States are obliged to compensate individuals for consequent loss or damage.

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