The art of cross-examination at Christmas 2017

What is your cross-examination directed at eliciting and proving? – i.e. the existence of Santa Claus.

The aims of cross-examination are these:

(i)      To destroy the material parts of the evidence-in-chief – i.e. NASA have found no evidence of the existence of dwellings at the North Pole sufficient to accommodate a colony of Elves that is large enough to manufacture at least one toy for every child in the world – of course not as my expert witness (Mr Kris Kringle of 34th Street New York, New York) has clearly stated in his report, ‘they only exist in the dream world’ – really I thought everyone knew that!;

(ii)     To weaken the evidence where it cannot be destroyed i.e. that reindeer cannot fly – the case that I shall advance on behalf of my Client is that they only fly at night on Christmas Eve;

(iii)    To elicit new evidence, helpful to the party cross-examining i.e. the Christmas albums of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, the great Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis; Deano, Rod Stewart, Michael Buble and Cliff – well why not it is Christmas …

(iv)    To undermine the witness (or shake his credit) by showing that he cannot be trusted to speak the truth, or that he is deposing (however honestly) to matters of which he has no real knowledge. i.e. I will demonstrate that Frosty the snowman has no peripheral vision whatsoever. I shall also prove that at all material times he was wearing woolen ear muffs.

The ideal to be aimed at is to lead the witness to admit that his evidence was untruthful or mistaken. How do you know that you saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe? [then distract and use as an opportunity to get the witness to prove another fact i.e. that reindeer can fly].

My next question, as you no doubt correctly anticipated [i.e. flatter the witness to disarm], is that outside, the snow is falling, and friends are calling, “yoo-hoo!” – Yes? [then get the witness to gradually agree with you].

There’s a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray – Yes?

It’ll be the perfect ending of a perfect day?

We’ll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop?

At the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop, pop, pop, pop?

There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy?

When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie?

It’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives?

These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives?

Do you hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too?

So reindeer fly?

In most cases, the objective is not so much to destroy the evidence outright, as to weaken it, that is to say to reduce the weight of the evidence and qualify the inferences which might be drawn from it. This objective is particularly important where the evidence is circumstantial, so that its damaging effect depends not so much on what is actually said as on what may be deduced from it. The witness may be induced to admit that other explanations are possible; or relentlessly probing into the details – as in cases where identification is in issue – may show that there is a possibility of a mistake. The eliciting of fresh evidence may lead to a new topic altogether. More often, however, the new evidence simply consists of facts which put a new colour on the evidence in chief. If this is done successfully, the result is not only to help in the building up of one’s case, but also, at the same time, to weaken the other side. Undermining – if successful – destroys the assumptions on which the reliability of the evidence depends. I.E. if Santa doesn’t exist then why was the mince pie invented? [Then extrapolate] How can you be sure that reindeer don’t like heights? After all don’t they bear an uncanny resemblance to mountain goats? – only with big red noses and antlers. Is it a coincidence that they both like carrots? What other possible explanation can there be – reindeer are an elevated species of mountain goat. QED I believe.

It does not follow that because an individual’s evidence is unreliable in some respects it is must also be unreliable in others.’ i.e. just because Gloria Estefan said that ‘all she wanted for Christmas was me’ [NB what she actually said was ‘you’ but that’s not how I heard it], it is not axiomatic that she did not also want a copy of my latest book on Contentious Probate – which incidentally is very reasonably priced at £79.95 and ordering links appear on the Publications page at

Cross-examination requires the greatest ingenuity; a habit of logical thought; clearness of perception in general; infinite patience and self-control; power to read men’s minds intuitively, to judge their characters by their faces, to appreciate their motives; ability to act with force and precision; a masterful knowledge of the subject-matter itself; an extreme caution; and above all, the instinct to discover the weak point in the witness under examination. One has to deal with a prodigious variety of witnesses testifying under an infinite number of differing circumstances. It involves all shades and complexions of human morals, human passions, and human intelligence. It is a mental duel between counsel and witness. It is absurd to suppose that any witness who has sworn, positively to a certain set of facts, even if he has advertently stretched the truth, is going to be readily induced by a lawyer to alter them and acknowledge his mistake. People as a rule do not reflect upon their meagre opportunities for observing facts, and rarely suspect the frailty of their own powers of observation. They come to court, when summoned as witnesses, prepared to tell what they think they know; and in the beginning they resent an attack upon their story as they would one upon their integrity. If the cross-examiner allows the witness to suspect from his manner toward him at the start, that he distrusts his integrity, he will straighten himself in the witness chair and mentally defy him at once. If, on the other hand, the counsel’s manner is courteous and conciliatory, the witness will soon lose the fear all witnesses have of the cross-examiner, and can almost imperceptibly be induced to enter into a discussion of his testimony in a fair minded spirit, which if the cross-examiner is clever, will soon disclose the weak points in the testimony. By our manner toward a witness we may have in a measure disarmed him, or at least thrown him off his guard, while his memory and conscience are being ransacked by subtle and searching questions, the scope of which will hardly be apparent to himself; but it is only with the matter of our cross-examination that we can hope to destroy him.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen – are all professional dancers on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ [which incidentally was very good this year] yes?

So you stay in on Saturday nights?

You also stay in on Sunday nights to watch the results show – don’t you!

And yet here you stand today telling us that your field of expertise includes ‘jingle bells’.

Not very likely is it?

In fact you have never been conveyed in a one horse open sleigh have you?

There are three principal techniques for undermining credibility. An advocate may suggest that a witness is:

(i)      being dishonest;

(ii)     inaccurate or inconsistent; or

(iii)    biased.

Alternatively, the advocate may seek to suggest some combination of (i) to (iii).

In cross-examination an advocate may either:

(i)       confront the witness with evidence that is inconsistent with their account;

(ii)      insinuate another version of events; or

(iii)     probe the witness’s evidence for flaws.

i.e. your childhood hero was Ebenezer Scrooge – was he not?

you worshiped his work ethic – didn’t you.

So you espouse thrift as a core value?

Your friends – if you had any, might call you ‘thrifty’ – is that not so?

Scroogle knew about Tiny Tim – didn’t he! [note I have got the fact at which my question is directed down to only 5 words].

Charity does not feature in your vocabulary – does it?

In the hierarchy of moral values – Scrooge comes first doesn’t he?

Neither of you shed a tear for poor Tiny Tim before the midnight chimes ran out through your empty house – which until then had been as quiet as a mouse. [NB not a moose!].

So why should we believe you when you say that you were visited by the Muppets at midnight on Christmas Eve?

Are you related to Kermie and Miss Piggy? – of course not – your evidence is nothing more than fantasy is it!

Confrontation, as the name indicates, consists of confronting the witness with a great mass of damaging facts which he cannot deny and which are inconsistent with his evidence. It is a destructive technique, but when it fails to destroy it may still succeed in weakening. Probing consists of inquiring thoroughly into the details of the story to discover flaws. It may be used either to weaken or destroy, or open up a lead to something new. Insinuation is a many-sided technique. In essence, it is the building-up of a different version of the evidence-in-chief, by bringing out new facts and possibilities, so that, while helping to establish a positive case in one’s own favour, at the same time it weakens the evidence-in-chief by drawing out its sting. Insinuation may take the form of quietly leading the witness on, little by little: alternatively it may be necessary to drive him. Thus there are two main forms of the technique, gentle insinuation and firm insinuation. The object of undermining is not to break down the evidence by inquiring into the facts, but to take away the foundations of the evidence by showing that either (i) the witness does not know what he is talking about, or (ii) if he does know the truth, he cannot be trusted to tell it.

Just as a party must in cross-examination challenge evidence of fact given in chief by a lay witness which is not accepted, so the opinions of an expert must be challenged if they are to be disputed. The purpose of cross-examination is to:

(i)     elicit support for your own case, and to weaken your opponent’s case; and

(ii)    put your client’s case (including as to the fact or content of documents) to the witness to afford the witness the opportunity to respond to it.

i.e. Santa Claus is also known by other names isn’t he?: for Santa anoraks please visit:

[Although in Swahili Santa Claus means Santa Claus!].

The evidence is therefore overwhelming and without doubt points to only one conclusion – namely that there is a Santa Claus.

Effective cross-examination of an expert is no different than of any other witness: you must have a sound analytical approach to the witness so that you can determine whether to cross-examine and, if so, how to organize and execute the cross-examination to carry out realistically attainable goals. This approach involves the following basic considerations.

  1. Should you cross-examine? Not every witness needs to be cross-examined. If the expert has not hurt you, or if you have no effective points to make, or your own experts have been more persuasive, consider not cross-examining.
  2. How should the cross-examination be organized? All cross-examinations have two possible basic purposes: eliciting favourable testimony, and conducting a destructive cross. Eliciting favourable testimony ordinarily comes before a destructive cross. If the expert has substantially helped you by agreeing to helpful facts, consider not attempting a destructive cross at all, although you have destructive ammunition.
  3. Effective cross-examinations have a structure that starts strong, and keeps it simple. They maintain control over the witness by asking simple, leading questions and stop when the point is made.
  4. What favourable information can you elicit? Did the witness say things on direct that you can have her repeat on cross? Can the witness admit facts not yet mentioned that support your case? What must the witness admit that helps?
  5. What discrediting or destructive cross-examination can you do? Are the witness’s perception, memory, or communication skills vulnerable? Can the witness be impeached? Can you expose the witness’s bias, interest, or motive? Has she made prior inconsistent statements? Can the witness be impeached by a treatise?

A good approach to any cross-examination is to ask yourself: what will I say about this witness in closing arguments? Planning the cross-examination is then a matter of determining what facts you can realistically make the witness admit during cross-examination that support your planned closing argument.

There are besides, two rules of practice, firmly established in British courts, which must be complied with. The first is that the witness must be cross-examined on all material facts which are disputed. Otherwise the court will take it that his evidence is not contested. The second rule is that an advocate, in cross-examining must put to the witness the case he is going to set up, so far as it lies within the witness’s knowledge; such cross-examination is a necessary preliminary to the calling of contradictory evidence. A real artist will comply with the rule that he must challenge the adverse evidence not in any perfunctory and formal manner, but by using all the resources of his technique to weaken, undermine or destroy it. Likewise, instead of formally putting his case to obtain denials, he will try to insinuate it and build it up out of the witness’s own mouth. Sometimes of course, there is no scope for anything but a formal challenge.


You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout

I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list,

Checking it twice,

Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

He sees you when you’re sleeping

He knows when you’re awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake

With little tin horns, little toy drums

Rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums

Santa Claus is coming to town

And curly head dolls that toddle and coo

Elephants, boats, and kiddie cars too

Santa Claus is comin’ to town

Then kids in Girls and Boy land will have a jubilee

They’re gonna build a Toyland town

all around the Christmas tree

So! You better watch out, you better not cry

Better not pout, I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is comin’ to town

[Then throw in a handful of latin phrases – whilst looking meek as if praying for the salvation of the witness’ soul]

En grege relicto

Humiles ad cunas,

Vocati pastores adproperant,

Et nos ovanti,

Gradu festinemus.

Venite, adoremus!

In general, if wishing to contest the opinion of an expert being called by our opponent, we can either contest the factual basis of the opinion, or we can contest the opinion itself. If the factual basis of the opinion is disputed, then we should be able to get the witness to agree in cross-examination that if the facts were as we contend, then his or her opinion would be different. If it is the opinion which we are contesting, on the other hand, then we will probably need to call our own expert witness.

There are six critical questions we can ask about experts:

  1. Expertise questions: How credible is E as an expert source?
  2. Field question: Is E an expert in the field that A is in?
  3. Opinion question: What did E assert that implies A?
  4. Trustworthiness question: Is E personally reliable as a source?
  5. Consistency question: Is A consistent with what other experts assert?
  6. Backup evidence question: Is E’s assertion based on evidence?

The expert’s possession of special expertise or knowledge is obviously the main foundational fact for expert opinion evidence; but it is not sufficient to prove some expertise at large. The expert witness must also be shown to be an expert in the field to which the issue about which they have been called to give evidence belongs.

i.e. I notice that your CV does not mention ‘walking in the winter wonder-land.’

You live in a picturesque chocolatebox village don’t you?

You must be very content?

So how do you know that Santa Clause ‘is not coming to town’?

An expert may be:

(i)     challenged as to credit in relation to his opinion as he may in respect of facts;

(ii)     asked to justify or deny particular opinions expressed on other occasions (including evidence given in similar cases) to cast doubt upon the opinions he has expressed in the present case;

(iii)   asked about his attitude to the parties, i.e. if it is suggested that he is biased; and

(iv)   questioned about whether he is or was not in a physical or mental state to express a proper opinion.

When cross-examining an expert witness the advocate’s aims specifically include:

(a)    limiting the witness’s apparent expertise. Narrow the extent of his or her expertise/experience by showing that it is not directly applicable to the case in question or, perhaps, by contrasting it to the experience of your expert;

(b)    showing that the witness has had less involvement/contact with the case than your expert;

(c)    showing your knowledge of the expert’s subject. Using your knowledge of the technical terms involved or the way in which any tests were carried out, the expert will be less inclined to avoid your questions. Contrast this approach with the way you may deal with an ordinary witness of fact by simplifying technical terms;

(d)     inviting the witness to define technical terms and sometimes in highly complex matters it may be necessary to invite the expert to use common language;

(e)    challenging his or her methods, for example showing that there were other tests that the expert could/should have carried out that might have produced a different result. Remember to check that the expert’s facts, calculations and methods do actually produce the results set out in his or her report and, if they do not, challenge the expert as this may undermine the confidence and credibility of the expert’s evidence;

(f)     inviting the witness to agree with the propositions that form the basis of your expert’s opinion – he or she is unlikely to disagree with everything your expert says, and you should know from your own expert those areas that are in dispute. Remember to ‘put your case’ to the expert by inviting him or her to deal with your expert’s methods/opinions/conclusions;

(g)    inviting the witness to agree that, in his or her field, legitimate differences of opinion frequently occur between qualified experts. This shows that the witness is not infallible and that his or her evidence is ‘opinion’ only; and

(h)    using hypothetical facts to test the strength of the expert’s opinion. Testing whether a different interpretation of the same facts or a slight change in those facts would affect the expert’s opinion.

Paragraph 5 of PD 35 provides,

Cross-examination of experts on the contents of their instructions will not be allowed unless the court permits it (or unless the party who gave the instructions consents). Before it gives permission the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to consider that the statement in the report of the substance of the instructions is inaccurate or incomplete. If the court is so satisfied, it will allow the cross-examination where it appears to be in the interests of justice.

Cross-examination of an expert witness is a hazardous undertaking. A witness under cross-examination does not want to agree with you. He will fight tooth and nail to confound you. He will misunderstand your questions. He will provide evasive answers. He will try to use your questions as an excuse to repeat the deadly features in his testimony which destroy your case. Unlike TV, a witness has no script which must be followed. He will try everything to wriggle out from under your questions. Every question in cross-examination is an invitation to disaster. It is an opportunity for the witness to hammer you and your case. So your first thought is don’t do it. Always start from the point of view: if I can avoid it, I will.

The advantage of a cross-examiner over even the most prepared witness is that only the cross-examiner knows which questions are going to be put next.

10 cardinal rules:

(i)      Always put your case to a witness in so far as it is relevant to that person’s evidence. Failure to do so may damage your case and may result in the witness being recalled.

(ii)     Keep your xx to what is absolutely necessary.

(iii)    Leading questions are permissible and should be used. Put propositions to a witness. Don’t give them a chance to give equivocal answers. Listen carefully to what they have to say. If a witness avoids answering the question put it again until he/she does.

(iv)    Do not ask multiple questions. Keep them short and keep a tight rein on the witness. You should be in charge.

(v)     Permissible – forceful/insistent. Impermissible – hectoring/bullying. XX does not mean being cross. Never lose your temper with a witness.

(vi)    Let the witness finish his/her answer, before proceeding to the next question. If a damaging answer has been given, pause before proceeding. Silence is golden. Let it sink in.

(vii)   Watch the judge’s pen. No matter how good the XX is, if the judge cannot record it, it may be lost. On a long trial, try to get a daily transcript if possible, it is very helpful for closing speeches.

(viii)  Never put questions on a false premise. It denudes the XX of its force and makes you look bad/ incompetent/unprepared.

(ix)    Never misrepresent a witness’s earlier answer.

(x)     Put questions, don’t make speeches/submissions. Don’t clutter the questions with comment – save that for closing.

Turkish delight and chocolate butter beans are only available in the same box as Brazil nuts in December – that is right isn’t it.

Cadbury’s selection boxes with puzzles on the back (including snakes and ladders) only appear in the shops at Christmas time don’t they?

You are not a Sainsbury’s shopper are you?

You have never heard sleigh bells in the snow have you?

In fact you were not even dreaming of a white Christmas when you gave your evidence were you?

Examine your concience.

Can you tell us truthfully whether you have you been naughty or nice this year?

Finally [the five golden rings question!]

Please turn to Bundle A, Tab 4 at page 108 – do you see what I see? – an exhibit as big as a kite? – a receipt marked ‘all items we supply have been certified as complying with Elf and Safety.’

Listen to what I say …

‘on the fifth day of Christmas DHL, who bring goodness and light, delivered –

Five golden rings!

Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree?’

What did DHL bring on the 12th day of Christmas?

You don’t know! – then either: (i) your recollection is unreliable; or (ii) [and pause for effect] You don’t believe in Santa Clause?

[Ask out loud the rhetorical question tinged with a hint of sadness for maximum emotional effect] What weight – if any – can be attached to the evidence of such a witness?

My Lord, I bring tidings of comfort and joy.

The only question you have to ask yourself is ‘do I believe?’

I submit that there is only one conclusion which can be reached on the facts in this case – and please think of the children when you deliver your ruling, silver bells, presents on the tree, and Christmastime in the City …

and that is, that Santa Clause does exist, and that he exists in the person of Kris Kringle.

So deck the halls with boughs of holly, strike the harp and join the chorus …

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all wherever you may be.

May your days always be merry and bright!

Joyeux Noël et bonne année

Frohe Weihnachten und neues Jahr, Glückliches

Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo

Feliz Navidad, Próspero año y felicidad


This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

The above is for use in training only and please do not attempt this at home either before during or after Christmas Day lunch!

For more! please visit the ‘Advocacy’ page at

Parallel Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

Where a claimant seeks to have a will set aside on the grounds of fraudulent calumny, can a complimentary claim be brought for breach of fiduciary duty, e.g. where a residuary beneficiary in an attorney appointed under a LPA?

The underlying premise is that proof of a material non-disclosure e.g. by silence, demonstrates that the fiduciary does not have ‘clean hands’, in which case, on the wider application of general principles of equity, the fiduciary should not be permitted to gain from his dishonesty as a beneficiary under the LPA donor’s will.

In other words where there has been a parallel breach of fiduciary duty, the court should not uphold the disputed will.

As a matter of policy, this jurisdiction connects with undue influence, because fraudulent calumny is a specific type of fraudulent misrepresentation.

In my submission:

1.             the basic concept of fraudulent calumny is that if A poisoned the mind of B against C, i.e. as a natural beneficiary of B’s bounty, by casting dishonest aspersions on C’s character, then the disputed will is liable to be set aside by the court;

2.             the essence of fraudulent calumny is that A must either know that the aspersions are false or not care whether they are true or false; and

3.             ‘[So] if some person raises prejudices in the mind of the testator against those who would be the natural objects of his bounty, and by contrivance keeps him from intercourse with his relatives to the end that these impressions thus formed to their disadvantage may never be removed, such contrivance may be equivalent to positive fraud and may render invalid any will executed under false impressions so kept alive.’ Williams, Mortimer And Sunnucks, Executors, Administrators and Probate (19th Edition), paragraph 13-58. (Please note that the 21st edition is due to be published in October 2018).


1.   [where] any money or property is concerned, [an attorney appointed to act under a lasting power of attorney] has a fiduciary duty to act as the donor’s agent and secure the proper management of the donor’s estate, for the benefit of the donor. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 furthermore takes the attorney into a new area of responsibility, requiring the attorney to make decisions where the donor lacks capacity, and which must be in accordance with the best interests criteria of the Act. The attorney must therefore take into account matters such as the donor’s past and present wishes and feelings, beliefs and values …’ (Paragraph 3.68 Court of Protection Practice 2017);

2.   [fraud] includes instances of deliberate misrepresentation. In Haygarth v Wearing [1871 12 L.R. Eq.320], the plaintiff…inherited a small estate worth at least £400. As she was not on very friendly terms with her brother she was not aware of this. The defendant, the brother’s friend … called on the plaintiff and informed her about the estate. But he deliberately misrepresented its value to her as £100 instead of £400) and offered to buy it at that price. The Plaintiff acting in ignorance agreed to sell it for £100. The conveyance was set aside as having been procured by fraud’, Duress, Undue Influence and Unconscionable Dealing (2006) by Nelson Enonchong, paragraph 17-023;

3.   in Christodoulides v Marcou [2017] the judge observed that because the party who made the fraudulent misrepresentations [‘A’] (which brought about the mistaken belief held by the deceased testator [‘B’] that resulted in the exclusion of her other daughter [‘C’] from her will), had failed ‘to correct what she [A] knew to be false when she [A] was a manager and trustee of [B’s] money [i.e. as a trustee of funds held in bank accounts where she was a joint account holder with the testator (i.e. her Mother [B]) – that in itself] was a [fraudulent] misrepresentation.’ As the judge put it,A’ therefore had a duty to speak because ‘silence will not do for a fiduciary’;

4.   it therefore appears that silence may constitute a breach of fiduciary duty which confers jurisdiction on the court to aside a will on the grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation;

5.   on general principles of equity, ‘[fiduciary] doctrine serves a protective function vis-à-vis non-fiduciary duties… [It] seeks to avoid situations in which a fiduciary’s personal interest conflicts with his non-fiduciary duty because there is in such situations an inherent temptation not to perform the non-fiduciary duty properly. The remedies for breach of fiduciary duties attempts to deter fiduciaries from acting in such situations, predominantly by removing any benefits that a fiduciary might obtain by acting in contravention of the fiduciary conflict principle. In other words, the remedies are the means by which fiduciary doctrine gives practical effect to its subsidiary and prophylactic protective function… Thus as Lord Chelmsford LC observed in Tate v Williamson [1866], a transaction between a fiduciary and his principal is liable to be set aside

“once it is established that there was a concealment of a material fact, which the [fiduciary] was bound to disclose”

If any material facts have not been disclosed, the principal’s consent is inadequate and the transaction can be avoided at the principal’s behest…’ Fiduciary Loyalty – Protecting the Due Performance of Non-Fiduciary Duties by Matthew Conaglen, pages 76 and 132; and

6.      ‘[if] from whatever combination of factual conditions, the parties in their relationship are so circumstanced that one is reasonably entitled to expect that the other is acting or will act in his interests, then that person should be entitled, on bare grounds of public policy, to have that expectation protected… The critical matter in the end is the role that the alleged fiduciary has, or should be taken to have, in the relationship. It must so implicate that party in the other’s affairs or so align him with the protection or advancement of that other’s interests that foundation exists for the “fiduciary expectation.” Such a role may generate an actual expectation that the other’s interests are being served.’ Fiduciary Obligations by Paul Finn 40th Anniversary Republication 2016, paragraph 161, 734, and 736.

The degree to which a claimant must satisfy the requirements in order to prove fraudulent calumny is the civil standard (i.e. the balance of probabilities). However the cogency and strength of the evidence required to prove fraud is heightened by the nature and seriousness of the allegation (Re Boyes [2013] EWHC 4027 (Ch) at paragraph 113). Therefore a high degree of proof is needed to meet that standard. The less likely an allegation is, the more convincing the evidence will have to be to prove it. Any allegation of dishonesty ought to be pleaded with the greatest particularity which is possible in the circumstances, and the court will be astute to ensure that any deficiency in the pleading does not cause prejudice to the opposite party in any fashion such as not having the opportunity to prepare or present his case as he may wish if he knew fairly what the allegation was against him.

CPR, r. 57.7(4)(c) states,

‘Any party who wishes to contend that –

(c)   the execution of a will was obtained by undue influence or fraud, must set out the contention specifically and give particulars of the facts and matters relied on.’

Furthermore, any such contention should only be made where there are reasonable grounds to support it.

Paragraphs 10.1 and 10.2 of the Chancery Guide 2016 state:

‘10.1 In addition to the matters which PD 16 requires to be set out specifically in the particulars of claim, a party must set out in any statement of case:

·      full particulars of any allegation of fraud, dishonesty, malice or illegality; and

·      where any inference of fraud or dishonesty is alleged, the facts on the basis of which the inference is alleged.

10.2 A party should not set out allegations of fraud or dishonesty unless there is credible material to support the contentions made. Setting out such matters without such material being available may result in the particular allegations being struck out and may result in wasted costs orders being made against the legal advisers responsible.’

On a personal note, may I take this opportunity to wish all readers of my posts this year a joyous Christmastime and a happy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year.

Joyeux Noël et bonne année,

Frohe Weihnachten und neues Jahr, Glückliches

Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo,

Feliz Navidad, Próspero año y felicidad.

US objects to new UK- WTO agricultural quotas schedule being established using “technical rectification”

·    Introduction

·     Requests for compensation

·     No impact assessment

·     The TRQ challenge

·     US objection


The EU has taken the final formal step to implement the decisions taken at the Nairobi World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference in 2015 on eliminating farming export subsidies. In a Press Release 06.10.2017 the European Commission announced,

‘The EU today submitted its revised goods schedule to the WTO which, on top of reconfirming the elimination of export subsidies, also includes the outcome of other recent negotiations, including those linked to EU enlargements.

This will bring the commitments on things like tariffs and farming subsidies that the EU and the 28 Member States have toward our trade partners up to date under WTO rules. This is ahead of the next Ministerial Conference which will take place in Buenos Aires from 10 to 13 December 2017.

The decision to eliminate farming export subsidies was taken by Trade Ministers in December 2015 during the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The decision, apart from eliminating farming export subsidies, also introduced new rules regarding other types of farming export support, including export credits.’

In ‘Brexit, Trade and Agriculture: Waiting for Answers’, published 04.12.2017, Joseph A McMahon, Full Professor of Commercial Law, UCD Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin wrote,

‘In the absence of agreement on the proposed trade agreement at the end of the withdrawal negotiations, or an interim agreement, the default position will be that the UK would have to trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. These terms will also apply to the UK’s trading relationship with all other countries once it leaves the EU as it will no longer be able to benefit from trade agreements concluded between those countries and the EU…

When the UK leaves the EU, it will have been just over forty-six years since it had its own Schedules in the GATT, so a new Schedule of Commitments will be needed as will an amendment to the EU Schedule. These will be submitted to the WTO’s Director General who will inform other WTO members of the Schedules. The Director General will certify/record these unless another Member objects to certification; in this event there will be informal consultations and if these fail there will be formal negotiations under Article XXVIII GATT and if these fail, recourse can be had to the Dispute Settlement Understanding.

a. Market Access

Under Article 4.1 AoA, the market access concessions contained in Schedules relate to bindings and reductions of tariffs. In answer to the question as to level of tariffs that the UK will impose with respect to agricultural products, it should be noted that the EU Agricultural Tariff Schedule is extraordinarily complicated, so the UK might take the opportunity to reduce the level of tariffs on certain products e.g. those not produced in the UK. It must be remembered here that the UK is a net-food importing country and once it leaves the EU as it is no longer bound by the principle of Community preference, imports may come from any source.

In addition to reducing the level of tariffs, Article 4 also provides for the tariffication with Article 4.2 providing that members are not to “maintain, resort to, or revert to any measures of the kind which have been required to be converted into ordinary customs duties” which are detailed in a footnote to this provision as being:

… quantitative import restrictions, variable import levies, minimum import prices, discretionary import licensing, non-tariff measures maintained through state-trading enterprises, voluntary export restraints, and similar border measures other than ordinary customs duties, whether or not the measures are maintained under country-specific derogations from the provisions of GATT 1947, but not measures maintained under balance-of-payments provisions or under other general, non-agriculture-specific provisions of GATT 1994 or of the other Multilateral Trade Agreements in Annex 1A to the WTO Agreement.

So, these are measures that the UK will not be able to rely on post-Brexit.

To maintain the situation prevailing at the time of tariffication, the AoA provides that quantities imported before it took effect could continue to be imported, and it guaranteed that some new quantities were charged duty rates that were not prohibitive. This was realised through tariff-quotas i.e. lower tariff rates for specified quantities, with higher rates for quantities that exceed the quota. So, all of the current 87 existing EU agricultural tariff quotas have their origins in the implementation of Article 4 and in the latest EU notification concerning imports under tariff quotas for 2016, some 27 products are listed as having a fill rate of 100% and of the remaining 37 products in the notification, eleven had a fill ratio of 0%.

So, the question is; can the EU’s tariff quotas be “divided” between the UK and the EU? One starting point is to undertake a detailed examination of the existing tariff quotas in the EU Schedule to determine if the UK is the major/principal beneficiary of those quotas. If so, there is an argument that the tariff quota in the new UK Schedule should match the traditional pattern of trade for a particular product with a consequent reduction in the EU Schedule for that product. One example here is the tariff quota for Angus Beef in the Korean Schedule – maintaining this tariff quota will require the EU to agree to allocate this tariff quota to the UK and if it does not, this would require the UK to undertake negotiations with Korea to retain its existing market access for this product.10 If one Member State were to object to the allocation of this particular quota to the UK, it is unlikely that the UK will be able to demand that its current status on the Korean beef market be maintained. In answer to the question of whether the existing tariff quotas can be divided, it is not clear whether tariff quotas arising under the AoA can in fact be split. If possible, it is probable that some WTO members may object to new tariff quotas coming into existence in 2019 rather than 1995.

This has indeed happened. On 11 October the UK and the EU notified the other members of the WTO that the UK would leave the EU at the end of March 2019 by which time the UK will have notified the WTO of its own separate schedules of commitments for goods and services. Until 2019 the UK will have to respect the EU’s Common Commercial Policy. The notification went on to note:

… the EU and UK intend to maintain the existing levels of market access available to other WTO Members. To this end, we intend that the future EU’s (excluding the UK) and the UK’s (outside the EU) quantitative commitments in the form of tariff-rate quotas be obtained through an apportionment of the EU’s existing commitments, based on trade flows under each tariff-rate quota. In doing so, we propose to follow a common approach, inter alia to data and methodology, and to engage actively with WTO Members on these.

The notification concluded by committing the UK and the EU “to engaging with the WTO Membership in a spirit of cooperation, inclusiveness and openness on these matters over the course of the coming weeks and months.” It is clear that some WTO members are not happy with the proposed approach to the division of tariff quotas as even before the letter from the UK and the EU, seven WTO members had expressed their concerns.

A letter from the Geneva representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, the United States and Uruguay suggested that the proposed division of tariff rate quotas based on historical averages was unacceptable as it would not fully honour existing tariff quota commitments. The proposed technical rectification was deemed unacceptable with the seven arguing that negotiations were needed between the UK and the EU on the one hand and, on the other hand, “the countries which are holders of Country-Allocated Tariff Rate Quotas into the European Union market, users of Most Favoured Nation Tariff Rate Quotas as well as holders of initial negotiating rights and principal and substantial interests in several concessions.” It seems that further discussions will be necessary before a definitive answer emerges to the question of what will happen to existing EU tariff quotas.

Another problem arises as a result of the process of tariffication, namely the ability to use Article 5 AoA which offers protection against import surges, provided that the products has been designated in a Member’s Schedule with the symbol SSG. Thirty-nine WTO members have reserved the right to use Article 5, including the EU who indicated that it could be used for a total of 539 products. The latest notifications by the EU indicates that the SSG had been used 36 times in the 2015/16.14 In answer to the question whether the UK would be able to use Article 5, it is difficult to imagine other WTO members agreeing that after 24 years of not being able to use Article 5 that the UK can rely on Article 5. So, it may be unlikely that the UK will be able to invoke a special safeguard measure…

In the context of the Agreement on Agriculture, the proposed division of existing EU tariff quotas between the UK and EU has been objected to by a number of WTO members. Further discussions will be needed to ensure that the final agreement is more than a technical rectification. Whilst it is unlikely that the UK will seek to use export subsidies as the EU has already moved to implement the Nairobi decision, it is less clear what the UK’s commitment on domestic support will be. A decision on this matter will reflect the nature of UK agricultural policy post-Brexit. Discussions on this to date suggest that an ecosystems services approach will be taken to domestic support which will have to be compliant with the terms of the Green Box. However, discussion on the future shape of UK agricultural policy have not yet progressed sufficiently for the promised Agriculture Bill to emerge. Whether the Bill provides for a UK-wide policy or allows each of the devolved administration to pursue a more nuanced approach to domestic support remains an unanswered question. It entirely possible that the Agriculture Bill could provide for the transfer back to the devolved administrations of competence in agriculture if common provisions are not needed. It also far from clear what the nature of the future trading relationship between the EU and UK and whether it will be a new deep and special relationship as suggested by the UK Prime Minister. Whilst the EU (Withdrawal) Bill provides for regulatory convergence as the UK leaves the EU, regulatory divergence is bound to emerge, if for example, new rules are adopted post-Brexit by the EU or when the UK relaxes existing rules as part of trade deal post-Brexit with a third country.’

Requests for compensation

‘When a panel or the Appellate Body concludes that a measure is inconsistent with a covered agreement, it “recommends” that the member bring the measure into conformity with the agreement, and may “suggest” ways in which the member could implement the recommendation … Within thirty days of the adoption of a panel or Appellate Body report , the member must tell the DSB of its intentions as regards the implementation of the recommendation.

Compensation is voluntary. But if the member fails to comply with the recommendations and rulings within the reasonable period it must, if so requested, enter into negotiations with the other party with a view to agreeing compensation. If that cannot be agreed, any complaining party may ask the DSB to authorize it to take countermeasures (Article 3(7) and 22). Countermeasures (coyly referred to in the DSU as “retaliatory action” or “suspension of concessions”) are temporary measure available in the event that recommendations or rulings are not implemented.’ Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust, page 357.

No impact assessment

The government has not carried out any impact assessments of leaving the EU on the UK economy, Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs 06.12.2017.

It therefore appears that no economic impact assessment has been undertaken of the consequences of trading under WTO rules.

The TRQ challenge

‘Defining the problem

When a country joins a customs union (CU), the acceding member adopts the CU tariff schedule. Where this results in a loss of market access for third countries, because custom union tariffs are higher than the bound tariffs the acceding country had scheduled in the WTO, third countries have a right to seek compensation (for example, countries such as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, China and Uruguay submitted claims for compensation when Croatia acceded to the EU in July 2013). All contingency trade measures (antidumping, anti-subsidy and safeguards) equally apply to the acceding members.

In the case of quantitative market access commitments, such as tariff rate quotas (TRQs), these are conventionally added to those of the CU. Similarly, commitments in the areas of domestic support and export subsidies are added to those of the CU. In practice, these changes in the CU’s commitments will be reported in its annual notifications to the WTO and will not be challenged by other WTO members, even if the implicit changes to the CU’s schedule of commitments are never formally approved.

Going in the opposite direction following the exit of a CU member is not so easy, particularly when that member was a member of the EU when the current WTO commitments were agreed following the Uruguay Round in 1994. There is no evident baseline to which these commitments can be rolled back. So how to establish what the UK’s agricultural policy WTO commitments would be following a possible Brexit?

In my view, this will require a two-stage process. The first stage will be a matter for negotiation between the UK and the EU27 (here used to mean the current EU28 member states less the UK, and not the EU prior to the accession of Croatia)… [The] procedures for leaving the EU were first set out in the Treaty on European Union, whose Article 50 provides, inter alia:

The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

One of the issues in negotiating the withdrawal agreement will be to decide how some of the EU28’s WTO commitments (for example, on import access) and concessions it has obtained (for export sales) should be apportioned between the UK and the EU27. Where the latter has obtained dedicated export rights (for example, through pre-allocated quantities in a bilateral tariff rate quota (TRQ)), changing this would require the consent of the importing country which seems an unlikely expectation. In these cases, the most likely outcome is that the TRQ would remain with the EU and the UK would lose its market access under that TRQ following Brexit. However, in the case of import TRQs there is a more realistic possibility that these might be divided between the UK and the EU27 if there were a will to do this. An allocation of the EU’s current domestic support commitments would also be required.

In such situations, there would then be a second stage within the WTO where other members would have to agree to this apportionment. This should not be taken as a foregone conclusion. If some WTO members felt that the agreed division of commitments discriminated against their market access entitlements or nullified some of their expected benefits under the WTO agreement, they might seek improvements or compensation in lieu.

WTO agricultural policy commitments

Let us conduct a thought experiment to see how these two stages might play out in the case of the WTO agricultural policy commitments.

With respect to tariff bindings, the UK would most likely inherit the EU’s bound tariffs which for most tariff lines are also the EU’s applied tariffs. This is not likely to be controversial in a WTO context. The UK could of course set its future applied MFN tariffs below this level but it could not exceed them.

There might be less agreement that the UK could inherit the ability to use the special safeguard on selected imports but the UK would have a strong case that it would be entitled to these provisions if it wished to make use of them.

As noted above, tariff rate quotas (TRQs) would be a more problematic issue. Some EU import TRQs are particularly important for the UK because a significant share of in-quota imports is destined for the UK market, such as butter from New Zealand. Whether the EU would want to share these quotas would be a matter for negotiation in the withdrawal negotiations. One could envisage that a more protectionist EU might be only too delighted to offload a larger than pro-rata share of its TRQs to the UK.

Getting agreement on any TRQ divvy up at the WTO would be more difficult. This is because different countries have different dependencies on the UK vs EU27 markets. No matter what allocation key is used, some third countries are bound to be aggrieved and feel that their exports (either to the UK or EU27 markets) would now face greater market access difficulties than before. If no agreement is forthcoming at the WTO, this could lead to a formal dispute over claims for compensation. To avoid this, or to be in a better position to defend such cases, the more objective the basis for the allocation and the more consistently it is applied across all TRQs, the better the chance of a successful defence.

Note my conclusion above that, in the case of bilateral export TRQs, these would probably stay with the EU and the UK would lose its existing market access rights. At this stage, I have not investigated how many such bilateral TRQs exist and how important they are for the UK. The UK could still compete, of course, for access under WTO multilateral TRQs as a WTO member outside the EU.

The UK will also want a share of the EU’s Bound Total AMS commitments which, together with its de minimis limits of product-related and non-product-related distorting support, represent the limit on the amount of trade-distorting support it can provide. At the moment the EU28 does not make full use of its Bound Total AMS, and its Current Total AMS is well below its bound ceiling. The apportionment of the AMS is unlikely to prove contentious as the UK is not likely to want to increase its use of trade-distorting support after Brexit. Some allocation key such as the relative shares in the value of gross agricultural output is likely to be used and would not meet with objection at the WTO.

The apportionment of export subsidy entitlements will not be an issue. Following the Nairobi Ministerial Council meeting of the WTO in December last year, the EU and all other developed country members agreed to eliminate remaining scheduled export subsidy entitlements with immediate effect (with some limited exceptions which will expire in 2020). As the negotiations leading to a withdrawal agreement are very unlikely to be completed by then (in my previous post I speculated that the date for a possible Brexit would be 1 January 2021), subsidies on agricultural exports will be prohibited by the time that this happens.

Bilateral trade agreements

The most complicated set of issues relates to the extent to which the UK will inherit the rights and obligations under the EU’s bilateral and regional trade agreements (RTAs). This is simply because of the number and detail of the provisions of these agreements, compared to a single WTO agreement (albeit with many individual chapters). I assume that in all cases the UK would intend to continue these agreements after Brexit to the extent that the other partners agree.

In all cases, because these are mixed agreements (meaning that they cover provisions that fall under member state responsibility under the Treaty of Lisbon) the UK is already in a legal relationship with the partner countries having separately ratified these agreements. Nonetheless, at a very minimum, a Brexit would imply textual changes to these agreements to recognise that the agreement is now with the UK directly and not through the EU. This would imply a process of ratification both by the UK and by each of the individual partner countries.

However, more than textual changes are likely to be required. Take again the issue of TRQs. which are widely used in bilateral trade agreements to address market access for sensitive agricultural products. Through its RTAs, the EU both gives and receives TRQ access to and from its trading partners. TRQ imports are important to the supply chains for various food processing industries in the UK. The notable example is sugar where the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery depends on access to duty-free sugar imports from ACP countries for its viability.

These sugar imports enter under Economic Partnership Agreements which are the EU’s RTAs with these countries (in this specific case, the UK could continue to import sugar from the least developed ACP countries under WTO rules but it could not offer duty-free access to other ACP countries without a comprehensive RTA with these countries). Of course, without separate UK RTAs with these countries, it could lower its applied MFN duty on sugar which would then apply to all countries including Brazil. Brazil would likely take the lion’s share of UK sugar imports under that scenario.

It is unlikely that the UK’s exit would require any alteration of the TRQ quantities in existing EU RTAs even if the agreements would now be only with EU27 rather than EU28 (in the same way as enlargement of the EU does not lead to any automatic change in these TRQ quantities in existing RTAs).

There are two conceivable options. One is that the EU27 and the third countries concerned voluntarily agree to renegotiate a division of the existing TRQs (both those of the partner country giving access to EU28 exports and those of the EU28 giving access to the partner country). This strikes me as highly implausible. On the EU side, it is very unlikely to want to go through the process of re-ratifying its 33 regional trade agreements to date. Approval of trade agreements now requires a time-intensive process including impact assessments and the involvement of both the Parliament and the Council, with the risk of unexpected pitfalls along the way.

The time pressure on the EU which is already engaged in negotiating a wide range of complex new agreements also means that it has no incentive to adjust its existing RTAs just to facilitate the UK which, after all, would be the one wanting to walk away from the EU. This option is also not attractive to the partners because, by definition, it reduces their market access. A TRQ dividing into binding limits in two markets is less valuable that the same TRQ with the flexibility to switch exports between two markets. I thus cannot see an incentive on either side to pursue this option.

The other option is for the UK to negotiate its own market access arrangements for these sensitive commodities as part of a full renegotiation of bilateral RTAs with these countries. It could decide to offer an additional TRQ or even abolish the sensitive status of the import and offer duty-free access. However, this implies simultaneous negotiations with the same 50 or so partners that are party to the EU’s over 30 RTAs.

It is important to underline that the UK cannot simply offer a bilateral quota to supplier countries to ensure continued access to supplies. Bilateral quotas are only WTO-compatible if agreed within the context of an RTA and, in turn, an RTA is only WTO-compatible if it covers ‘substantially all trade’ and if it is phased in ‘within a reasonable period of time’ (often taken to mean ten years). There is thus no alternative to concluding new comprehensive RTAs with these trading partners if the market access provisions (in both directions) are to continue.

To put it mildly, this will be a difficult balancing act to be achieved under considerable time pressure during the prescribed renegotiation period for withdrawal once the UK formally announced it wished to exit. All of these new agreements would have to be in place by the time of the formal end of the exit negotiations to avoid disruption of supply chains. While countries routinely use the possibility to provisionally apply the tariff concessions contained in an RTA before all the formal ratification steps are completed, there must be a strong possibility of disruption to particular UK supply chains which are dependent on access to duty-free supplies under existing EU RTAs in the wake of a possible Brexit.


Advocates of a UK withdrawal from the EU argue that the WTO provides a clear alternative to EU membership. This post asks the question what would its WTO commitments be with respect to agricultural policy in the event of a Brexit, and how would WTO rules affect its current trade flows?

The answers are not likely to be controversial in the case of tariff bindings or domestic support commitments, but its WTO commitments could create difficulties in the case of imports and exports under tariff rate quotas.

Also, WTO rules on non-discrimination imply that it may not be easy to maintain the market access granted under the EU’s RTAs without full-fledged negotiations to agree parallel agreements with the 50 or so countries that have signed free trade agreements with the EU. While signing new agreements outside the EU is certainly feasible, whether these can be in place before the end of the withdrawal period from the EU is a moot point.

There must be a high risk that Brexit would lead to disruption to supply chains (in the case of imports) and to export sales. Also, the time pressure on the UK to secure agreements will leave it in a relatively weak bargaining position vis-à-vis its trade partners implying that it may have to yield more concessions than might otherwise be the case in order to secure these agreements.’

WTO dimensions of a UK ‘Brexit’ and agricultural trade by Alan Matthews 05.01.2016.

(Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy in the Department of Economics at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. His major research interests are agricultural policy analysis, the impact of international trade on developing countries, and computable general equilibrium analysis of trade and agricultural policy reforms).

See also Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (‘AHDB’) Horizon Report, ‘The WTO and its implications for agriculture’:

US objection 

‘The Trump administration has joined a group of countries objecting to a deal between the UK and EU to divide valuable agricultural import quotas, in a sign of how the US and others plan to use Brexit to force the UK to further open its sensitive market for farm products. President Donald Trump has been one of the most prominent international backers of Brexit and has vowed quickly to negotiate a “beautiful trade deal” with the UK after it leaves the EU. But his administration’s objection to a preliminary plan, agreed to by Brussels and London over how to split the EU’s existing “tariff rate quotas” under World Trade Organisation rules after the UK assumes its own WTO obligations following Brexit, illustrates how Washington is likely to drive a hard bargain. It also undermines efforts by Theresa May’s government this week to portray the WTO deal with the EU as a significant win, something made doubly painful by Mr Trump’s past backing of Brexit. The risk for the UK is that as part of its post-Brexit transition in the WTO it may have to accept opening up access to agricultural goods from third countries far more than it wants — even before it agrees any new trade deals with such countries. A spokesman for Britain’s department for international trade said on Thursday that the EU-UK plans would be discussed “extensively with our partners in the WTO before proceeding”, in a reference to the UK’s desire to avoid a bruising battle in the WTO on the issue. Britain was seeking a “smooth transition which minimises the disruption to our trading relationships”, he said. But the US joined other major agricultural exporters including Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand in signing a letter sent last week to the EU and UK’s WTO ambassadors objecting to the plan to split the quotas that cover everything from New Zealand butter and lamb to US poultry and wheat. Under WTO rules, those country-specific quotas allow low-tariff imports up to a certain volume with tariffs increasing after that. As such, they are hugely valuable to countries such as Argentina and New Zealand that depend heavily on agricultural exports and the powerful farm lobby in the US. While the UK was a founding member of the WTO and one of the first signatories of its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, its membership obligations until now have been managed by the EU. The EU-UK plan calls for the existing EU quotas to be split between the EU and UK after Brexit based on historical imports and consumption patterns. The US and others, however, argue that method is unfair as it would effectively allow the EU to reduce its obligations to fellow WTO members and set a low bar for the UK as well. “Such an outcome would not be consistent with the principle of leaving other [WTO] members no worse off, nor fully honour the existing TRQ access commitments. Thus, we cannot accept such an agreement,” the countries wrote. Emily Davis, spokeswoman for Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, said neither the EU nor the UK had presented any written plan for how to handle the WTO quotas to Washington. But the Trump administration was “actively engaged with its trading partners on the future of UK and EU tariff rate quotas following Brexit”. “Ensuring that US exporters of food and agricultural products have the market access in Europe due to them even after Brexit is a high priority for the administration,” she said. The UK and EU are due to present their plan to other WTO members during the week of October 16 when trade negotiators descend on Geneva for what is known as agriculture week. European diplomats have emphasised the importance to both the EU and the UK of striking a deal on dividing up of TRQs.

Brussels is keen to avoid having to maintain EU TRQs at their current size after Brexit, something that would put increased pressure on its farmers once Britain leaves. For Britain, the stakes are potentially much higher, given the UK’s need to establish itself independently at the WTO in any Brexit scenario. The talks are bound up with other WTO issues that Britain needs to settle, such as what share it should take of the EU’s rights to subsidise its farmers. Among the UK’s plans is to ask that its new agricultural quotas schedule be established using a method called “technical rectification”, which would avoid having to secure approval from other WTO members. But in their letter to the EU and UK ambassadors the US and other signatories objected to that method as well. “The modification of these TRQ access arrangements cannot credibly be achieved through a technical rectification,” they wrote. “None of these arrangements should be modified without our agreement . . . In the case of substantial changes affecting the balance of concessions, the whole membership of the organisation may take an interest.” The UK redoubled its backing for the approach on Thursday. “We still believe that technical rectification remains the most appropriate procedure for introducing UK schedules into the WTO,” the UK trade department spokesman said, adding that Britain was “committed to working constructively and openly with our international partners throughout the process.”’

Trump rejects May’s post-Brexit agriculture deal with EU – US expected to drive hard bargain as UK assumes its own WTO obligations, FT, 05.10.2017.