The Supreme Court has ruled that the UK cannot leave the EU without parliamentary approval, in a decision which means there will be a debate in the House of Commons to determine how Article 50 can be triggered.
Lord Neuberger, president of the court said: ‘The main issue is concerned with the fact that the government has a prerogative power to withdraw from international treaties as it sees fit. However the government cannot do that if it changes UK laws without the consultation of parliament.
‘Today by a majority of eight to three the Supreme Court rules that the government cannot trigger article 50 without an act of parliament.’
A press statement from the Supreme Court also asserted that the devolved regions of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales do not need to be consulted to trigger Article 50.
Lead claimant and 51-year-old investment manager Gina Miller was represented by Mishcon de Reya, who instructed the services of Lord Pannick QC and Rhodri Thompson QC.
Mishcon disputes partner Rob Murray (pictured) who is acting on the case, dismissed the possibility of an appeal: ‘The Supreme Court is the end of the line. I’m not expecting any reference to the European Court of Justice. It’s not something that was argued in the hearing.’
Bindmans partner John Halford, represented the People’s Challenge group. The group, backed by a CrowdJustice campaign that has raised around £170,000, argues that ‘Royal Prerogative cannot be used to remove ordinary people’s rights granted by Act of Parliament.’ Halford instructs a team that comprises Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers and Gerry Facenna QC of Monckton Chambers.
Representing the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis, was Blackstone Chambers’ James Eadie QC. Eadie, who has been nicknamed ‘the Treasury Devil’, has previously advised the government on issues such as drone strikes and prisoner voting.
The 11-strong panel of justices is the largest ever assembled for a court case since the inception of the law lords in 1876. The justices are: Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes, and Lord Hodge.
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a landmark speech on 17 Jan outlining the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It was announced that the UK will sever its ties with the single market, however May emphasised that she envisioned a ‘truly global Britain.’
Debevoise & Plimpton London co-managing partner Lord Goldsmith said: ‘The political significance of this decision will be much debated, but its practical implications are clear. Prime Minister May’s deadline of 31 March to invoke Article 50 now seems in danger. The ability of the Government to put through an Act of Parliament without causing further delay in the timetable will surely be strongly tested in the coming weeks.’
Lord Chancellor Elizabeth Truss said: ‘While we may not always agree with judgments, it is a fundamental part of any thriving democracy that legal process is followed. The government has been clear that it will respect the decision of the court.’
Read the full decision here.
Read more in: ‘Great expectations – Neuberger speaks’