Despite reassurances that negotiators have pushed the Brexit machine into motion once again,  experts warned today that the entire process could be delayed for up to two years if any aspect is referred to the European Court of Justice. This could effectively stop the clock on the Brexit two-year deadline.

According to Catherine Barnard, a professor of EU law at the University of Cambridge said: “The Brexit process could be delayed if the deal is referred to the ECJ, as it is an interpretation of Article 50 and Article 50 is part of European law. This could either be from someone who is dissatisfied by the deal, but they would need to bring the case to their national court, or the European Parliament could seek a judicial review action. The European Parliament has the right to appear before the ECJ.”

This news comes the same week that some MEPs have called for a review of the Prime Minister’s plans to make all EU citizens register with the government after Brexit. According to a cross-party group of MEPs, the government’s plans to register all EU citizens following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union would be illegal and unacceptable to the European parliament. With these statements in mind, it casts Barnard’s warnings in a more immediate light.

At the moment, the Brexit talks haven’t progressed past the first round of negotiations as the two sides cannot agree on some fundamental issues. Outstanding issues include the Irish border, citizens rights and the divorce bill. According to Barnard, “It would not take very much for the Brexit process to be referred to the ECJ. The whole issue is so complex there are going to be many areas that are contestable,” meaning that the 2019 deadline might not be set in stone as we once thought.

There is also the concern that any final deal could even be shelved if the ECJ decides to veto the final agreement. Both parties could be forced back to the negotiating table if the ECJ exercises its veto rights. This could happen if the ECJ questions if the deal is in the best interest of the people.

If you’re concerned about the impact of Brexit on your life, get in touch with the immigration team at IAS to discuss your needs.