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HMRC to revoke Brexit power to change law by public notice

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HMRC is to withdraw regulations laid earlier this month giving HM Treasury officials the power to issue public notices making changes to customs, VAT, or excise law, after a legal charity began moves to seek judicial review.

The Cross-border Trade (Public Notices) (EU Exit) Regulations, SI 2019/1307, would have provided HM Treasury with a temporary power, lasting for a period of six months from exit day, to issue public notices where ‘appropriate in the public interest’ in connection with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Public Law Project (PLP), a charity that aims to help disadvantaged individuals, was considering an application for judicial review on the grounds that the regulations went beyond the power conferred by the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018 s 51.

HMRC solicitor’s office responded on behalf of HMT and HMRC, confirming ‘on reflection’ its decision to revoke the regulations. The letter does not give a precise timescale for revocation, but undertakes ‘not to use the powers in these regulations before Exit date’.

The letter reiterated the government’s position that the regulations were designed to give HMRC and HMT the ‘flexibility to act quickly in an unpredictable environment after the UK’s departure from the EU’, adding that ‘the revoking of the regulations should not be taken as a concession by HMT/HMRC’ that PLP’s arguments are correct.

The Public Law Project’s work on ensuring ‘procedural fairness’ for Brexit included establishing the statutory instrument filtering and tracking (SIFT) project to provide effective scrutiny of the large volume of secondary legislation needed.

In January 2018, during the Bill’s passage through Parliament, the House of Lords delegated powers and regulatory reform committee called for more rigorous examination of regulation-making powers and the use of public notices. The committee’s report noted that the Bill relied heavily on the concept of making law by public notice, which ‘is highly unusual and such provisions should attract strict surveillance by Parliament’.

Issue: 1462
Categories: News