Statement / Statement regarding the intention of the UK Parliament to pass into law the United Kingdom Internal Markets Bill


The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) is extremely concerned about the intention of the UK Parliament to pass into law the United Kingdom Internal Markets Bill. If passed into law in its current form this Bill permits a Minister to disregard UK international obligations. These obligations include the EU UK Withdrawal Agreement1 which by Article 5, entitled Good Faith, provides that the UK and the EU must take:

“all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising from this Agreement and shall refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of this Agreement.”

The Commonwealth Harare Declaration, agreed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Harare in 1991, declared:

“we believe that international peace and order, global economic development and the rule of international law are essential to the security and prosperity of mankind”

The Commonwealth Charter, signed on Commonwealth Day 11th March 2013, in Section 7 entitled Rule of Law, states:

“We believe in the rule of law as an essential protection for the people of the Commonwealth and as an assurance of limited and accountable government.”

In clauses 42 to 45 of the Internal Markets Bill, the UK Government is asking Parliament to legislate in deliberate breach of the UK’s international obligations. Clause 45(2)(b) will disapply the direct effect and supremacy which the Government agreed to give to the Withdrawal Agreement to the extent necessary to enable it to make regulations which disapply provisions in the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement.

The CLA:

  • reminds the UK Government that the rule of law requires compliance by the State with its
    obligations in international law as in national law. A breach of international law is a breach of the
    rule of law;
  • are concerned that by passing the Internal Markets Bill and repudiating an international law
    obligation there are likely to be significant consequences for the UK’s reputation as a global leader
    on the rule of law and as an advocate for compliance with the rule of law throughout the
  • calls upon the Executive and Legislature of the United Kingdom to ensure that the proposed
  • Internal Markets Bill does not pass into law in its current form; and
  • calls upon the UK Parliament, at all times, to act
    • in accordance with its international obligations and
    • in a manner consistent with the Commonwealth Principles and Declarations to which the UK was party and
    • in accordance with the rule of law

Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)
5th October 2020

EDITORS NOTE: The Commonwealth Lawyers Association is an international non-profit organisation which exists to
promote and maintain the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by ensuring that an independent and efficient
legal profession, with the highest standards of ethics and integrity, serves the people of the Commonwealth.

  1. (Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union…2019/C 384 I/01)