The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill: why it matters to your Business

On 22 September 2022, the UK Government published the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (‘the Bill’). Under the Bill, all retained EU law will be revoked on 31 December 2023 (or at a later date prior to 23 June 2026 if a consensus to delay is reached) unless Members of Parliament take steps to codify it into UK law. The potential regulatory effect of the Bill is seismic. In this article we explore the Bill’s content, and the impact it could have on businesses operating across all sectors.

Purpose and Effect

Retained EU Law (‘REUL’) is a category of domestic law created at the end of the transition period following Brexit, consisting of EU-derived subordinate legislation and retained direct EU legislation that was preserved in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The Bill will enable the Government, via Parliament, to amend more easily, repeal and replace REUL. The Bill also includes a sunset date (‘the Sunset Date’ - currently 31 December 2023) by which all remaining REUL will be repealed if not assimilated into UK domestic law. In introducing the Bill, the Government pledged to reclaim the sovereignty of Parliament, and restore primacy to Acts of Parliament - the principle of the supremacy of EU law, general principles of EU law, and directly effective EU rights will therefore also end on the Sunset Date.

The Bill requires Government departments and the devolved administrations to take positive action to determine which REUL can expire, and which needs to be incorporated into domestic law. With the Sunset Date only 14 months away, it seems unlikely that the relevant Government departments will be able to review and assess every piece of REUL, in order to ascertain whether it is suited for the UK and should remain on the statute book, within this timeframe. The Bill potentially unpicks huge amounts of legislation relating to key areas including health and safety, environmental and consumer protection; its potential impact on the UK regulatory framework is therefore extremely significant.

Affected Legislation

The Bill currently impacts around 2,400 regulations across 21 Government departments. Some of the key pieces of regulatory legislation affected are:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002;
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013;
  • Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015;
  • Building Regulations 2010;
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015;
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013; and
  • General Food Regulations 2004.

The extent of legislation caught by the Bill means it has the potential to affect most, if not all, businesses in the UK. To date, more than 2000 pieces of REUL have not yet been amended, repealed or replaced.

Next Steps

The Bill will be debated in both Houses of Parliament over the coming months, and could be amended in light of concerns raised over the uncertainty that the proposed reforms might cause for businesses.

The Bill includes an extension mechanism for the sunset of specified pieces of REUL until 23 June 2026, and it seems likely that this additional time will be required, given how much essential regulatory legislation risks being expired if it is not. The removal of all REUL by the end of next year threatens to cause significant disruption to consumers, businesses, regulatory authorities and those at all stages of supply chains.


With thousands of REUL measures at risk, the myriad possible futures for this Bill make it impossible to give any definitive advice on how businesses ought to prepare for its effects. Unprecedented deregulation (if all regulations are allowed to expire) or a return to ‘business as usual’ (if they are all reinstated), are both viable potential scenarios at this stage; the likelihood is a position somewhere in between.

There will inevitably be a period of time where consideration is given to the status of each piece of REUL, during which there may well be consultation with stakeholders or the public at large. Keeping on top of the Bill’s progress, and the governmental review of relevant REUL, will be essential for all businesses who may want to take any opportunities that arise to ensure their voice is heard. The Government has created a REUL Dashboard which contains a list of REUL, alongside a description and its current status, which businesses should consider using to stay abreast of legislative developments. In the meantime, it remains incumbent on each business to know and comply with the law in force at all times; no small task in the face of such large-scale potential change.

Over the past few days and weeks, there has been much commentary in the media from financial specialists and business leaders regarding the need for the Government to create an environment of “certainty and stability” in the interests of businesses and the country as a whole. These same interests are unlikely to be served by wholesale change to the raft of legislation now placed at risk, and it is hoped that the future of the Bill will be shaped and determined within the environment of certainty and stability currently being called for.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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