The Bar Council continues its work, both domestically and beyond our shores, in the interests of the profession and the public, to try to secure the best possible outcome for the Brexit negotiations and to safeguard relations with the EU on legal matters going forward. This work is coordinated by the Bar's Brexit Working Group, with the support of its EU Law Committee, drawing on the expertise and experience of practitioners from a wide range of practice areas, to ensure that the public debate is informed, existing rights are protected so far as possible in the future EU-UK relationship, and the rule of law upheld.

The Brexit Papers

One tangible product of this work is the Bar's Brexit Papers, which offer Government, parliamentarians, the media and the public a concise and informative evaluation, in an accessible format, of the legal challenges posed by leaving the EU, their practical implications for the economy and society, and recommendations to Government.  The list is added to regularly.  Links to all our papers are provided below, with more to follow. 

November 2018 - crunch time

Following months of intense negotiations, on 14 November, the EU and UK negotiators produced a full draft Withdrawal Agreement with annexed outline of the joint Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK. More information is available here. Together, these documents form the Withdrawal Package.

The EU27 is now debating whether all Member States can sign up to the package, whilst in London, the focus is on securing UK Parliamentary approval, by no means a certainty.  

If all goes to plan, an Extraordinary European Council meeting on 25 November will finalise and formalise the Withdrawal Package, and the UK Parliament will follow suit next month.  The European Parliament's approval, a lesser hurdle in these circumstances, should then be secured early next year.


If the Withdrawal Package is formally ratified by all concerned, the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019 in conformity with its terms.  We would then enter into a period of transition, the terms of which are set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, during which the parties will negotiate the detailed terms of the Future Relationship, in line with the Political Declaration on its Framework.  The transition period is set to end in December 2020, though the EU is already indicating its willingness to agree an extension as necessary.      

No deal

If either the UK Parliament and/or the EU27 fail to ratify the current draft Withdrawal Package, the risk that the UK leaves the EU at 11pm on 29 March 2019 without a deal becomes very real indeed.  The only realistic way to avoid that would be revocation of the Article 50 TEU Notice of Withdrawal (on which see further below) or an extension of the notice period to allow more time for negotiation.  However, there would be very little appetite for the latter on the EU side.  Indeed, the UK could be faced with a worse deal, given the stance taken by some Member States in recent days.   

No deal preparations

With these risks in mind, and in parallel to their work to finalise and formalise the draft Withdrawal Package, both the EU and the UK are preparing for a no-deal Brexit.  More details of the steps each are taking and links to their advice to stakeholders are to be found in the Bar's most recent paper:  Preparing for a no-deal Brexit: Substantive advice to practitioners

Our paper goes on to explore the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on different, and perhaps to some, surprising, areas of practice; provides practical guidance on issues to look out for and where to find the information you would need to prepare yourself in good time. 

Among the documents linked below (under FAQs) you will also find updated versions of Q & A papers on the impact on practice rights of both deal and no deal, jointly developed by the UK legal professions through the UK delegation to the Council of the Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).    

There is also up-to-date advice on call to the Bar of Ireland for those seeking a possible route to securing practice rights in an EU Member State going forward.   

If you are a barrister who would like further information or have any queries about no-deal preparation, please contact Christian Wisskirchen, Head of International at the Bar Council.

Is revocation of the Article 50 TEU notice possible?

On 27 November, the Court of Justice of the EU is hearing the parties in Case C-619/2018, an Article 267 TFEU reference by the Scottish Court of Session, on the following question: 

"Where, in accordance with Article 50 of the TEU, a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, does EU law permit that notice to be revoked unilaterally by the notifying Member State; and, if so, subject to what conditions and with what effect relative to the Member State remaining within the EU?"

This page, and the links below, will be updated regularly. 

Bitesize Brexit - Youtube

The Bar Council's Youtube channel now hosts the 'Bitesize Brexit' playlist, a series of short clips featuring members of the Brexit Working Group and EU Law Committee breaking down the complex law and politics of Brexit into bitesized pieces.

CLICK HERE to access the Bitesize Brexit playlist on the Bar Council's Youtube channel.

Press releases and media statements

18 JulyBrexit: Civil Justice treaty needed to protect UK interests

8 February 2018 - Bar Brexit Chair warns against 'reinventing' CJEU

6 December 2017 - Bar Council Brexit 'blue-print' to solve most difficult issues of Irish border and 'frictionless' trade

7 September 2017 - UK Citizens set for 'second class status' - EU (Withdrawal) Bill

23 August 2017 - Bar Council response to Government post-Brexit civil judicial cooperation paper

13 July 2017 - Bar Council response to 'Repeal Bill'

23 June 2017 - Tackle tough questions first - Bar warns Brexit negotiators

23 June 2017 - PM's commitment to UK and EU citizen's rights only half the story

22 March 2017 - Bar Council backs Justice Committee Brexit report

16 March 2017 - Bar calls for open movement and bespoke deal for the City 

22 January 2017 - Bar Council backs Lord Chancellor on civil justice cooperation

17 January 2017 - Bar Council response to Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech

20 December 2016 - Government must protect UK legal services strengths' in Brexit process

12 December 2016The Brexit Papers: Bar's Brexit Working Group publishes key paper to aid Government on Brexit

28 October 2016 Bar Council Chairman joins David Davis for Brexit Breakfast

5 August 2016Brexit prompts public and businesses to seek legal advice from barristers

20 July 2016Legal sector must grow post-Brexit: Bar Council response to TheCityUK report

12 July 2016Chair of the Bar invites Hugh Mercer QC to chair Brexit Working Group

30 June 2016What now for the Bar post-Brexit? Chair’s blog, Chantal Aimeée Doerries

24 June 2016Bar Council response to EU referendum result

17 June 2016Barristers publish non-partisan, fact-based report on European Union membership


March 2018 - Will Brexit jeopardise the Rule of Law and human rights? Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC

February 2018 - Brexit and beyond: Challenges for the legal profession, Hugh Mercer QC, Chair of the Bar Council Brexit Working Group

August 2017 - Shaping the Bar's response to Brexit, The Barrister Magazine, Hugh Mercer QC

May 2017 - The Brexit Papers, Counsel Magazine, Hugh Mercer QC