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Brexit and Human Rights: Doughty Street barristers give evidence to Joint Committee on Human Rights

By Susie AlegreCaoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne


Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is currently considering the impact of the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU on the human rights framework and protection of human rights in the UK.  Three Doughty Street barristers with expertise in human rights and international law have submitted evidence to the inquiry, and it has been published today.  Susie Alegre, Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne all have particular expertise in relation to the human rights implications of Brexit.  Examples of their relevant experience are:

  • Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne recently wrote an independent report, commissioned by the GUE/ NGL group of the European Parliament, on the potential effects of repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 on Northern Ireland, and devolution-related human rights matters including possible withdrawal from the EU.  This report was co-authored with Dr. Keina Yoshida and they were instructed by KRW Law.  Details of the report are available here. See also Caoilfhionn and Katie’s article, Westminster’s Blind Spot: Northern Ireland and Human Rights.  
  • Susie Alegre has been working closely with the Centre for Small States at Queen Mary, University of London, on the human rights implications of Brexit for British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.  More details are available here and see also Susie’s blog, Brexit – Shock Waves Offshore.   


Susie, Caoilfhionn and Katie’s evidence to the Joint Committee focuses upon some key issues concerning Brexit and human rights, namely:

  • A: as context, a number of issues concerning the referendum and human rights, raising particular concerns regarding the flawed conflation of the EU and the Council of Europe during the campaign, the politicisation of international courts and the undermining of the rule of law, and the human rights risks arising from the potential economic impact of Brexit.
  • B: the importance of the EU for the protection of rights, considering both general issues concerning the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and some selected specific areas in which they raise serious concerns (privacy and data protection; equality; children’s rights; and environmental rights).  They also cover the change in the UK’s position to influence EU law.
  • C: issues concerning citizenship which raise the gravest of concerns – the removal of rights associated with EU citizenship for UK nationals, the impact on EU nationals in the UK, and the severe impact upon the devolved nations that voted against Brexit (particularly Northern Ireland, given the centrality of human rights protection to the peace process) and upon Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies which were denied a vote.


Their submissions can be read in full here.


More details concerning the JCHR’s inquiry are available here and evidence submitted by other individuals and organisations can be viewed here.


Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS
Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 53-54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS