If ever there was a case which highlighted just how much EU law affected British law, it was April 1993, when Leeds-based supermarket giant Asda defied law lords by opening on Sunday.
After a series of incidents in which stores had been prosecuted for breaking the traditional Sunday trading ban, as set out in the Shops Act and after a challenge by DIY chain B&Q was rejected, Asda took the lead and opened anyway.
At the time, it had 202 stores (with 146 opening) and over 60,000 staff. The supermarket justified the move by citing the European Communities free trade laws.
However, despite a recent law lords ruling backing local authorities’ rights to enforce a ban and bring prosecutions, Leeds City Council was proceeding cautiously, suspending some legal cases.
Not so in Kirkless, however, where chief solicitor Roger Butterfield announced they would be taking companies to court, adding: “The ruling has made is abundantly clear that, whatever the big stores might claim, there is no conflict between the Treaty of Rome and the Shops Act, which regulates who can open on Sundays.”