Dear all,

As I write, its all over the news that Britain has voted to leave the EU.
I just started my PhD last September, but successfully completed my annual review this April. My research examines the implementation of a particular EU directive in the UK, under both Scots law and English law and ascertaining how the unique legal systems in both countries has led to a varied interpretation of the directive.

My question is, with the exit of the UK from the EU, does it mean I have to drop my PhD as it will seem irrelevant or overtaken by events, since the particular EU directive I am looking at may stop applying to the UK after the exit?

I have earlier spoken to my supervisor about this and he said there was no problem if the UK pulls out, as the research focuses on an event that happened. But this was months back when the possibility of a Brexit was dim. Britain has now pulled out!

What do you think may happen to my research? I am funded by my university, so it will be painful to leave the programme. Please I am very concerned about this development.


Honestly, I think you will be fine. Brexit wont happen till much later in the year, and your research is still relevant despite Brexit. Don't worry.


I think if you are focusing on something that has happened, then it's certainly still valid to write about it. It may be that you have more material to discuss now . It is probably no bad thing to be writing about something that is actively evolving!

Avatar for Mark_B

Hi Onyx

I wouldn't worry - 'Brexit' won't actually happen until at least October 2018 - and that's assuming the decision is formally made by the new Prime Minister immediately after the Conservative Party conference *and* that the process only takes the standard two year period allowed by the European Council (this can be extended).

As for your research, it sounds to me like your topic is still valid. You're looking at the results of interactions between different legal systems - even if those results change in future, you've still examined an important process. It's possible that your work may actually become more relevant or topical.


I think the other posters here have covered this well but I really wish to emphasis the point that Mark B makes about the importance of the results irrespective of our membership.

Even if the UK left tomorrow morning, the understanding of how European directives were implemented within divergent legal systems is relevant and very important. At most, you may have to include a time frame within your work. I.e. 1973 - 2018 or something. You can even include a section on why, even though the UK left, the research is still important.


Hi Onyx - I know it's difficult as you haven't started your research yet, but I think that you need to ask yourself whether you want to be an EU lawyer.

Although your research topic is valid and will stay that way, you might find that in a couple of years, EU law will no longer a compulsory subject for the QLD. That may have a knock-on effect on whether you can get an academic job, or even a position in practice (eg Brexit is a real problem for the competition lawyers that I know...)

If I was in your position, I would go ahead with the PhD, but I would make sure that any teaching I did was non-EU related. That way you can move into another area if there are any problems. So, if you're looking at European commercial law, I would try to teach contract; if you're thinking about the Equality Act 2010, I would teach employment law....

Sorry not to be more positive, but you need to take a long-term view here, I think.


Hi all,

Thank you for all your useful comments and suggestions. I very much appreciate.

Will continue with my research for now!

Best wishes to everyone.



I had just written an article on the General Data Protection Regulation when the referendum result came back. I worried that I might have to scrap the entire piece. Unlike Regulations, Directives have to be transposed by the member states, so the resulting legislation continues to apply (the same would not be true for Regulations). That said, many Regulations may continue to apply for a number of reasons.