Your rights after Brexit
Find out how the UK Government aims to protect your rights after Brexit and the setting up of a 'dedicated mechanism’ with extra powers and responsibilities to protect those rights.
Article 2 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (the Protocol) created the 'dedicated mechanism' giving the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the Commissions) extra powers and responsibilities to protect your rights after Brexit.
Following the EU Exit, the UK Government committed in Article 2 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (the Protocol) to make sure that:
- protections in Northern Ireland before 1 January 2021 on the rights, safeguards and equality of opportunities as set out in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement are not less after leaving the EU
- equality laws here keep up with any future changes by the EU to certain EU anti-discrimination law
This commitment applies to a wide range of rights covered under EU law before leaving the EU. These include protection against discrimination on the grounds of:
- racial or ethnic origin
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
The UK Government's commitment is also to promote equal treatment.
Other EU laws are also covered by this commitment, including those about:
- parental leave
- rights of victims
- rights of pregnant workers
- specific measures to protect the rights of people with disabilities
The 'dedicated mechanism'
As the 'dedicated mechanism’, the Commissions monitor, supervise, advise and report on the UK Government’s commitment to "no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity."
The Commissions will make sure the UK Government stands by its commitment to protect your rights by:
- helping you to understand the commitment
- advising government
- reviewing and reporting on it
- bringing legal challenges
- giving advice and support to you about making a legal challenge
The Commissions also work closely with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission on the oversight of rights and equalities issues falling within the scope of the commitment which have an all-Ireland dimension.
Making a complaint
The Commissions can give advice and help if you think your rights have been affected as a result of leaving the EU.
Individuals have the right to bring a complaint to court if they think the Government has broken its commitment. This includes taking legal proceedings in the form of a judicial review. Such a legal challenge is dealt with, and decided, by a court.
The Commissions can advise you about a potential break of the commitment and, in certain cases, support you to bring a legal challenge to court.
- ECNI – Making a Complaint – equality and human rights after Brexit
- NIHRC – Human Rights after Brexit
Timings for making a complaint
You should contact the Commissions as soon as possible for advice if you think this commitment has been broken.
There are time limits for lodging proceedings with a court.
A legal challenge must be brought to a court within three months of a decision or action being complained about taking place.
Contacting or making an application for help and advice from the Commissions is not the same as issuing legal proceedings.
If there are concerns arising outside this three-month period, you should still contact the Commissions as soon as possible for advice.