Research by Thomson Reuters Legal business shows the number of business-related laws passed in the UK has fallen 13% over the last year to 1,123 in June 2017, down from 1,295 in June 2016.
The EU referendum result in June 2016 means that the Government has to spend considerable time making preparations for leaving the EU at the expense of domestic policy making. This time constraint was compounded following the announcement of a snap general election in April 2017.
Over the last five years, there has been a 19% fall from 1,379 in the year to June 2013
The Government’s legislative process has been temporarily suspended in four different ‘purdah’ periods since the start of 2014.
The figures relate to business-related statutes and statutory instruments and include laws relating to financial regulation, intellectual property and taxation, for example.
A number of EU-derived laws were still passed last year
Despite the overall fall in the number of new laws, some major EU-derived business-related laws were passed last year – much of it relating to financial regulation and taxation, including:
- The Bank Recovery and Resolution Order 2016: which implements the next stage of an earlier EU directive requiring European Economic Area states to have powers to manage the potential failure of banks and investment firms in a financial crisis as an alternative to insolvency.
- Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing & Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017: which implement part of the EU’s ‘fourth money laundering directive’ to prevent the use of the financial system for money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups.
- The Taxes (Base Erosion & Profit Shifting Country-by-Country Reporting) Regulations 2017: which is derived from an EU directive that requires partners and subsidiaries of multi-national companies to file country-by-country reports with HMRC on the amount of tax they pay.
The UK has introduced a total of 707 new laws that originated from Brussels since the EU referendum last June. The new laws add to the current list of approximately 19,000 EU laws Government legislators will need to consider as the UK negotiates the terms under which it will leave the EU.
The tailing-off of business-related legislation could be seen by some businesses as a welcome respite, but others will see some of the new legislation as essential reforms.
Joanna Morris, director of commissioning at Thomson Reuters Practical Law, said: “A great deal of ministerial time has been required for the ongoing Brexit negotiations and parliamentary time has also been cut as a result of this year’s snap election. Fewer sitting days means less legislation enacted.
“In addition, there may be an effect from the lack of a working government majority since early June – fewer pieces of legislation are being presented and are taking longer to debate and enact.
“That said, EU legislation continues to be implemented in the usual way, much of it affecting financial services”.