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  1. ITV Report

Ireland’s common law could be ‘advantage’ after Brexit

Chief Justice Frank Clarke warns of the impact of Brexit on Ireland and the EU. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Ireland’s top judge said the country could become a safe haven for international disputes after Brexit.

The Chief Justice of Ireland, Justice Frank Clarke, said that Ireland will become the only full common law country in the European Union after Brexit, which could be a “significant advantage”.

Mr Justice Clarke however warned that the problems arising from Brexit span “many areas”.

He described the re-emergence of a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland as “potentially a critical issue”.

Speaking at a seminar in Fordham University in New York on Thursday, the top judge addressed the effects of Brexit on the law and Ireland’s future role.

He said that a no-deal Brexit would give rise to “very great difficulties” in relation to legal issues involving the UK and other EU member states as well as issues involving third parties such as US corporations.

He said that the Irish legal system is “very well placed” as Ireland will remain a common law country.

He said: “The ordinary language of the Irish courts will continue to be English.

“But importantly Ireland will remain a member of the European Union and the decisions of Irish courts will continue to be easily enforceable throughout the European Union.

“Those are advantages which we have and which are not shared by any other jurisdiction.

“Ireland can provide, not least for those outside the EU in the common law world, a safe haven.

“In a time of great uncertainty I would like to think that safe haven may prove to be a significant advantage.”

He also said that the UK cannot “cherry-pick” aspects of the EU and warned of the dangers if the UK is allowed to do this.

He added: “There are potential difficulties with at least most of the potential solutions and there remains the undoubted political difficulty which stems from the understandable desire of the European Union to ensure that the UK cannot just cherry-pick those aspects of its relations with the EU which it wishes to retain and extract itself from those obligations with which it is not happy.

“If it were to be seen to be the case that a member state could leave the European Union and keep the bits that suited it and discard the bits that did not then that driver of cohesion would be lost.

“There remains very significant doubt about the precise nature of the arrangements which are likely to be entered into not least because of the political red line identified by the UK Government which suggests that the UK is unwilling to accept the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice in any future arrangements.

“While it is not impossible to envisage arrangements which get around that difficulty it does remain a significant barrier.”