Law lecturers reassure disheartened students that their EU law studies not in vain

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By Katie King on

Factortame is going nowhere


Within minutes of last week’s shock referendum result being announced, law students and graduates were up in arms about the wasted graft they’d put into their EU law studies.

In and among the social media hysteria, there are genuine concerns from our readers that all those hours hitting the EU law books will have been simply frittered away.

But for all those who have been feeling hard done by since Friday’s result, rest assured your work has not been in vain.

Kenneth Armstrong, who teaches EU law at the University of Cambridge, explains:

If we end up with some kind of European Economic Area (‘Norway’) model then students should be very glad that they studied EU law as they will be very familiar with the concepts that apply to free movement within a European market. Understanding how EU law treats ‘third country nationals’ may also be of value.

His view is supported by Jo-Anne Pugh, who teaches at BPP Law School, and also believes EU law is “still relevant” because:

[T]he EU will remain the UK’s closest major trading partner and there is every chance that any future trade agreement reached between the UK and the EU reaching during or following this process will embody principles already found in EU law. Understanding EU law will benefit lawyers who encounter such a trade agreement during their careers.

So that’s some solace for those who have already put in the hard hours but what will become future law students?

The status of the LLB syllabus post-referendum is something Legal Cheek investigated some months ago, long before the UK voted to leave the EU.

The general consensus from the academics we interviewed was that EU law will probably still be studied by new law students, though maybe not as a core, compulsory module. Legal curricula would be subjected to some sort of change, but this wouldn’t happen very quickly.

So, now the possibility of UK exit from the EU seems much more real, has the consensus changed?

Well, not really.

Armstrong was clear that his subject will still be a core module on LLB syllabuses for some time yet. He explains:

For the time being things won’t change. The question of whether there should be any ‘foundation’ subjects is very much a live one with the professions and it might be that the fate of EU as a core module might be a way into a further discussion about foundational subjects in general.

Pugh agreed, and echoed Armstrong’s sentiments saying:

It is highly likely that all law schools will continue to teach the LLB EU law until the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Bar Council indicate otherwise, as EU law will still be effective until such time as the exit process under article 50 of the Treaty of European Union has been completed.

So sorry future law students; it looks like there is no escaping Factortame.