Britons delayed at Dover to miss out on compensation if EU law scrapped
Passengers taking bus and coach trips to the continent stand to lose their right to compensation for delays in Dover under government plans to delete thousands of EU laws.
Legislation specifically designed to offer redress for those on trips of longer than 250km (155 miles) has been omitted from a government list of more than 3,700 laws that could be actively saved, scrapped or changed in parliament under the controversial retained EU law bill.
Unless added, it would mean compensation rights would be automatically deleted from British statute books under a “sunset clause”, which will sweep away all EU laws at the end of December apart from those actively saved by parliament.
Rocio Concha, the director of policy and advocacy at the Which? consumer group, said: “It’s clear that the government does not currently have a firm enough grip on the extent of legislation which is at risk of simply slipping off the statute books by mistake.
“As things stand, if the disruption we witnessed at the Port of Dover were to occur during the Easter holidays next year, thousands of passengers’ rights, including eligibility for compensation in the event of delays or cancellations, would all but evaporate.”
Under the rules, bus passengers are entitled to snacks and meals if there is a delay of more than 90 minutes on any journey longer than three hours.
Accommodation, and transport to and from that accommodation, must be offered where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, with particular effort required to meet the needs of passengers with disabilities and any companion passenger.
Thousands of holidaymakers, many of them children on school trips, were hit by delays in Dover of up to 18 hours at Easter and under current laws could claim compensation.
The delays were blamed on a combination of bad weather and a post-Brexit requirement for French border police to make time-consuming checks of passports stamps to ensure non-EU citizens, including British, comply with new limits on visitor stays on the continent.
The government plans to delete retained EU legislation by the end of 2023 apart from laws that have been actively “saved” by ministers in parliament.
It has come under heavy fire from lawyers, the opposition and peers not only because of the ambitious plans to review almost 4,000 laws but because of the sweeping powers to remove layers of parliamentary scrutiny, necessary if it is to achieve the goal.
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A group of Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers has been meeting in secret for weeks to discuss how to amend the bill.
The first government “dashboard” of 2,400 laws that would be affected by the REUL was updated this year after the discovery of 1,400 laws that were not on the original list.
The Department for Transport said it continues “to identify REUL in scope of the bill and expect this list to continue to iterate”.
The government says the second iteration of the list of laws that could end up being deleted “is not intended to provide a comprehensive account” and that the list will be updated throughout 2023.