Kieran Pezzack discusses Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and EU legal action

As part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement that came into force on 01 February 2020, the UK are supposed to apply specific border arrangements with Northern Ireland. This included applying customs and tax rules on trades, set up border inspection posts and share trade data with the EU. However, the British government have stated that applying these arrangement has been too disruptive. Whilst the UK are currently in talks with the EU to fix problems with the protocol, talks have stalled. Liz Truss, then Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, has stated that the preferred course of action would be to solve the Brexit trade arrangements by negotiations. However, the EU have refused to reopen the text of the agreement. As such, legislative action is necessary.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (the Bill) is at the Report stage in the House of Lord. This Bill would allow the UK to remove some of the border arrangements without getting EU approval. Specifically, the Bill aims to create a “green channel”, for goods bound from the UK to Northern Ireland. This will mean that goods that pass through this channel will be free from the current impractical and disruptive checks. The Bill would, also, give UK ministers more control over tax and spending policy in Northern Ireland.

Many people have voiced their opposition to the Bill. This includes David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary, who claims the Bill is fixing minor issues but threatening serious consequences to the UK’s reputation as a law-keeper and to its relationship with the EU. These fears have started to apply as the EU have bought a variety of legal claims against the British government. Cases in the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) usually take years to be heard. However, when these cases do get heard, heavy fines could be handed to the UK by the European Court of Justice.

It is worth noting that the most important factor to keep updated on is the development of the Bill. If this becomes UK law and the UK government starts to unilaterally change parts of the treaty, the EU will take a more serious course of action. This could see trade sanctions being implemented against the UK.

For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email or visit our Linkedin page at

Kieran Pezzack

This information was correct as of November 2022

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