It's certainly been a bumpy road for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, sparking much controversy along the way, but on 29 June 2023, it finally received Royal Assent and is now the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (the Act).
We have posted various blogs on the aims, status and progress of the bill (see here for our most recent one last month - Significant development for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23: new list of affected legislation) but as a re-cap, the Act will automatically revoke (or 'sunset') a list of around 600 Retained EU laws (see here the list of affected laws in Schedule 1 of the Act) by the end of 2023. As a result of extensive criticism and pushback from the House of Lords for the lack of scrutiny required under the bill when making such important changes to the UK's legislative framework, and the very tight timescale, this list was recently whittled down from an original list of around 5000 laws which had originally been proposed for revocation.
The Act will also:
- Abolish the special status of EU law and formally abolish the principle of supremacy and other general principles of EU law after 2023;
- Rename any remaining REUL after 2023 ‘assimilated law’, at which point it will no longer be necessary to interpret assimilated law in accordance with corresponding EU law
- Grant powers to modify retained EU law by Statutory Instrument
- Enable the restatement, replacement or updating of certain retained EU law
- Make it easier for UK domestic courts to depart from retained EU case law
In terms of IP, there is no immediate cause for concern as a result of this enactment. The UKIPO recently updated its list of the seven affected IP laws that will automatically be revoked on 31 December 2023, based on the government's decision to reduce the list of 5000 laws to 600. The seven regulations earmarked for revocation in December 2023 are either no longer required (e.g. because provisions have been repealed or regulations have been superseded by subsequent regulations) or they are inoperable (e.g. because they relate to the practice and operation of EU institutions and not UK bodies) and as a result, there will be no significant impact on IP laws in the UK – for now.
It will however, be interesting to see the impact of the new Act over the next few years, given the government can make significant reforms by secondary legislation (e.g. SIs). Also for IP litigators in particular, it will be interesting to see how quickly we will see judges depart from retained EU case law (for example in the upcoming Supreme Court's ruling in Sky v SkyKick) or not as the case may be! We'll be watching closely for any divergence. The UKIPO may also now have more time now to focus on other important initiatives such as the hotly debated topic of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on IP and the complex area of design law in the UK which could benefit from some refining.
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