Funded PhD opportunities

Brexit and the Impact on Equality Law and Workers’ Rights

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (EU/UK/International)
  • Department: Portsmouth Law School
  • PhD Supervisor: Michael Connolly; Dr Panos Kapotas; Dr Peter Scott

Project code: LAWC3900218

Project description

On the 13th July 2017, the UK Government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Aside from the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 (and with it the proposed ousting of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), the Bill’s purpose was to ‘convert the acquis’ of EU law and in doing so preserve any EU-derived equality and employment rights. This is a novel and untested mechanism. As such, there is scope, indeed a need, for detailed, original and imaginative research into its efficacy. Some areas in need of research are (but not limited to):

Discrimination, Rights, and Statutory Interpretation

Is it possible for the subsequent judicial interpretation by UK courts of these rights to align with that given by the ECJ, given the different traditions of the respective judicial bodies and/or that the ultimate ‘teleological’ goal of the ECJ is the ‘ever closer union between the peoples of Europe’? There is a likelihood that the converted rights will diminish over time, leaving UK citizens markedly worse off.

Impact on Trade Deals

Another aspect of this is that diminished rights could undermine any Brexit trade deals requiring a ‘level playing field’ of workers’ rights for the purposes of fair trade.

Enforcement of EU Equality and Workers Rights

These rights come to UK citizens through a number of sources, notably Treaty provisions, Directives, and ECJ decisions. But there is a long history of Member States failing to implement properly these rights. In response, the ECJ has developed a number of methods enabling individual citizens to enforce these rights, bypassing their (inadequate) domestic law. If, as expected, the Bill ousts the jurisdiction of the ECJ, how can this route to rights be protected?

An Enhanced Role for the European Convention on Human Rights

As well as the ever-developing equality and employment rights, EU institutions are adopting human rights. As this progresses within the EU, there will appear ‘gaps’ between the rights of EU and UK citizens. One possibility of filling these gaps is harnessing the potential of the European Convention on Human Rights (via the Human Rights Act 1998), or even its lesser-known companion, the European Social Charter.

Supervisor Profiles

Michael Connolly, Senior Lecturer

Dr Panos Kapotas, Senior Lecturer

Dr Peter Scott, Senior Lecturer

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.  


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Michael Connolly at (02392 844837),  Dr Panos Kapotas at (02392 844223), or Dr Peter Scott at (02392844246).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: LAWC3900218.

Interview date: TBC.

Start date: October 2018.

Applications should include

  • a full CV including personal details, qualifications, educational history and, where applicable, any employment or other experience relevant to the application

  • contact details for two referees able to comment on your academic performance

  • a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of a research design you would propose to meet the stated objectives, identifying the challenges this project might present and discussing how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.

  • proof of English language proficiency (for EU and international students)

All the above must be submitted by the 11th of February 2018. 

Funding notes

UK/EU students -  The fully-funded, full-time three-year studentship provides a stipend that is in line with that offered by Research Councils UK of £14,553 per annum.

International students - International students applying for this project are eligible to be considered for the Portsmouth Global PhD scholarships.

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