'Poor track record' for UK in European Court of Justice


The UK has lost more than three-quarters of its cases in the European Court of Justice, according to analysis by the pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign.

The campaign group found that since joining the European Economic Community in 1973, the UK has lost 101 of 131 cases in the Luxembourg court - some 77%.

Justice minister Dominic Raab, who is backing the Leave campaign, said the rulings "undermine a basic principle of democracy" because the judges are not held to account in the UK.

Vote Leave claimed the research cast doubt on David Cameron's assurances that the deal he has negotiated in Brussels for a new relationship with the European Union was legally watertight.

A dossier prepared by Vote Leave said that since Mr Cameron took office in 2010, the UK has been defeated in 16 cases out of 20 at the ECJ, a failure rate of 80%.

"These defeats show how little influence the UK has in the EU institutions and reveal the extent to which unelected EU judges, rather than elected British politicians, are in control of UK law," the document said.

"They also suggest that promised from the Government of 'legally binding and irreversible' changes to the UK's relationship with the EU as a result of its renegotiation cannot be taken at face value as they can be overridden by unelected EU judges after the referendum." 

Cases where the UK has been defeated include a 1983 ruling which was blamed by former chancellor Lord Lawson - now the Vote Leave chairman - for having to put up the price of beer by raising duty by 2p a pint in his 1984 budget.

Other judgments highlighted by Vote Leave include the 1996 rejection of the UK's challenge to the working time directive, the inability to end the ban on the export of British beef during the BSE crisis in 1998, and the 2015 ruling against a reduced VAT rate for energy-saving materials.

Mr Raab said: "The EU has a long-track record of shifting the goalposts. Britain thinks it is signed up for one thing, only to find something very different imposed on us. In 40 years, we've lost three-quarters of cases at the Luxembourg court, when we've tried to resist these incursions.

"They affect everything from the price of beer to the cost of home insulation, and undermine basic principle of our democracy - that the British people can hold to account those who write the laws of the land."