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UK to urge 'close co-operation' on cross-border legal disputes post-Brexit

The position paper comes ahead of a third round of Brexit talks next week. Credit: PA

The Government is to set out proposals to ensure that cross-border legal disputes are dealt with in a "fair and sensible way" after Brexit.

A paper setting out the UK's position on future co-operation with civil courts in the European Union will say that families, businesses and individuals need "certainty" about how their cases will be dealt with following Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

The position paper - which will be released on Tuesday - will state that close judicial co-operation will be "crucial" for millions of EU citizens living in the UK, and Britons living on the continent, as well as businesses which buy, sell and invest across borders, and the many ordinary people who get caught up in legal disputes.

The proposals are designed to cover a wide-range of cases, covering business disputes with EU-based companies and British consumers taking legal action over defective products supplied by firms on the continent, to divorce, custody or child maintenance battles involving families with members resident in one of the 27 remaining EU states.

They are designed to ensure that it is clear which country's courts will hear a case, which country's laws will be used to resolve it, and how judgements in one country will be enforced in another.

Currently the UK is part of the EU's civil judicial co-operation system which provides a clear set of rules to manage cross-border disputes.

The position paper is the latest to come from David Davis' Department for Exiting the EU. Credit: PA

The proposals are the latest in a string of papers which set out the Government's position ahead of the third round of Brexit talks which begin in Brussels next week.

The most contentious paper is expected to be one on the future relations with the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which is expected in the new few days.

Tuesday's paper will call for a new reciprocal framework for civil law based on commitments to build on existing co-operation and to continue collaboration across borders.

Speaking ahead of the paper's launch a Government spokesperson said: "Close co-operation in this area isn't just in the interest of the UK citizens living in the EU, it's in the interest of the 3.2 million EU citizens living here in Britain.

"For example, with more and more families living across borders, we need to make absolutely sure that if and when problems arise, they can be reassured that cross-border laws will apply to them in a fair and sensible way.

"By setting out a very clear position on this, we hope that we will be able to work with the (European) Commission to agree a reasoned approach that works for families here in Britain and across the European Union."

In a position paper released last week, the Government said it was "confident" it could enforce new immigration controls on EU citizens without needing to enforce a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Avoiding checkpoints is one of the top priorities for negotiating post-Brexit arrangements for its only land frontier with the EU.

The Government will publish five position papers in the coming days. Credit: PA

As well as the position paper on future relationships with the ECJ, the Government is also expected to publish three more position papers in the coming days.

One document on goods will emphasise that the Government is seeking a deal to ensure the freest and most friction-less trade possible in goods and services.

Another will focus on confidentiality and make clear the Government's intentions on ensuring official documents and information exchanged between the UK, EU and other member states remain protected after Brexit.

While a final paper on data will seek to ensure that it continues to be passed between the UK and EU without disruption.