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Equality Law after Brexit


Faculty of Business and Law

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Law and will be supervised by Dr Michael Connolly and Dr Panos Kapotas.

The Faculty of Business and Law offers funding to attend conferences (currently £550), training (currently £450), and a work-based placement (currently a maximum of £3,000 tied up to the period of 12 weeks).

The work on this project will:
-Consider UK equality and employment rights post Brexit.
-The potential benefits and problems regarding these rights post Brexit
-The interpretation of ‘EU retained’ law post-Brexit
-The role of the Human Rights Act 1998 regarding these rights
-The common law and a general principle of equality

Project description
Much, but not all, of the UK’s equality and employment law has been driven by EU legislation and its developing case law. After EU secession and the implementation period, a body of retained EU law will be created, preserving the effect of all EU law as it stands at that point (EU(W) Act 2018, ss 2-4). This includes a substantial body of equality and employment rights.

But there is some uncertainty here. The Supreme Court will not be bound by any retained EU case law. In deciding whether to depart from retained EU case law, the Supreme Court should ‘apply the same test as it would apply in deciding whether to depart from its own case law’ (EU(W) Act 2018, s 6(5)). However, regulations may be made exempting specified tribunals or courts also from being bound (EU(WA) Act 2018, s 6(4)(ba) and (5A)).

The basis on which a tribunal or court follows, or departs from, this case law is not entirely clear. As a guide, the 2018 Act provides that UK courts ‘may have regard to anything done’ by the EU (including the CJEU) on or after the implementation period (EU(W) Act, s6(2)). In 2017, the (then) President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, called for ‘greater clarity’ from Parliament on the interpretation of EU law following Brexit. 1 Lord Neuberger’s concern holds today, as the ‘have regard’ instruction provides much discretion and little certainty.

It is possible that leaving the EU will have a significant impact on UK employment and equality rights, and it seems that tribunals and courts will play a critical role, especially because, unlike the CJEU, English common law has no general principal of equality. Research could consider the potential benefits and problems in this area. This could examine, for example, the theoretical, political, economic, or social, bases for any of the retained EU employment or equality rights, that may be persuasive or relevant to their interpretation. It could consider the common law and its potential to develop a general principle of equality, or how the Human Rights Act 1998 might fill some gaps created by secession from the EU.

Entry requirements
You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in law or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply
We’d encourage you to contact Dr Michael.Connolly () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form (please follow the institution website link to access it). Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.

When applying please quote project code: LLAW4701020

Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

The Faculty of Business and Law offers funding to attend conferences (currently £550), training (currently £450), and a work-based placement (currently a maximum of £3,000 tied up to the period of 12 weeks).

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