So far as is reasonably practicable... in defence of the common law. For the last 10 years the EU Commission has claimed that the qualification "so far as is reasonably practicable" that applies to the general duties in health and safety law meant that the UK had failed properly to implement European Directive 89/391/EEC into UK law where no such qualifying phraseology could be found. On 14 June 2007 the European Court of Justice ruled on this issue and found in favour of the UK government.
This legal challenge has at its heart the fundamental differences between the Code Napoleon style of legislating which prevails accross the EU where laws are expressed in absolutes but the court applying them can moderate them to ensure reasonableness and proportionality and the common law system where the courts must apply the law as it is written. This difference of approach also perhaps lies at the heart of the UK's gold plating of EU directives - where we apply law written in absolute terms absolutely without taking cognisance of that those applying Code Napoleon principles would expect inherent flexibility of approach in their courts.
By the way who seems to have the safest workforce in Europe...
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