The European Court of Justice is essentially the Supreme Court of the European Union which interprets EU law to ensure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.
Members states have a duty to ensure that their legislation is compatible with EU law. If the law in an EU member state is not compatible with EU law and this can not be justified, then potential legal challenges can arise.
The European Court of Justice often adjudicate on highly complex legal points and many of their Judgments have shaped the law not only in individual member states but across all 27 EU member states.
The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland have recently referred the case of TKF -v- The Department of Justice to the European Court of Justice to clarify a number of points of law. Conal McGarrity of our office acts for the applicant in this matter.
The matter being challenged is the decision of the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland to enforce a Polish Maintenance Order against our client, who is a polish national living in Northern Ireland. This is a highly complex legal point and it is our case that a maintenance decision made in Poland prior to Poland becoming an EU member state can not be enforced in the jurisdiction of another member state, in this case Northern Ireland.
Our client’s legal team have sent written submissions to the European Court of Justice and are awaiting a Hearing date.
If the Court agree with our submissions then this case could have an impact across all 27 EU member states and could potentially change the law in this area.
The UK’s membership and subservience to the European Court of Justice remains a bone of contention in the Brexit debate. It is important to clarify that the European Court of Justice still has jurisdiction in the UK and the UK are still bound to comply with EU law. This may change with time, but it is likely that the European Court of Justice will continue to influence UK law in the future.
It is clear, however, that UK legislation and policy in recent years has become more inward looking. In particular, obstacles have been put in place which impede the free movement of all citizens within EU member states.
Our human rights and Judicial Review solicitors have been involved in several challenges against the UK government in relation to legislation and policy which has restricted the rights of EU citizens. One such challenge was a Judicial Review taken against the Department for Home Affairs for introducing oppressive legislation which effectively prevents EU nationals from accessing housing benefit in the UK and dramatically increased homelessness and rough sleeping amongst EU migrants. It was argued that this policy purposely created a ‘hostile environment’ for EU migrants and was aimed at lowering net migration.
The aim of our human rights and judicial review solicitors is to not only challenge, but also to shape the law in this jurisdiction and further afield. We have vast experience in challenging the decisions of government departments and identifying legislation which does not comply with EU law.
Contact us for an initial enquiry. We will discuss the funding options which are available to our client’s, including Legal Aid, legal expenses cover and private paying.