The Supreme Court has this morning by a majority of eight to three dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal over whether Article 50 can be lawfully triggered without a vote by Parliament.
The decision upholds a High Court ruling handed down in November in which the claimant Gina Miller, represented by Mishcon de Reya, alongside a number of other claimant groups, won her challenge against Government plans to trigger Article 50.
This morning’s ruling means Government must seek an Act of Parliament before it can move ahead with plans to take Britain out of the EU.
In a statement outside the Royal Courts after the judgment was delivered, attorney general Jeremy Wright said he was “disappointed” by the verdict but added the Government would comply.
Successful claimants were represented by Mishcon de Reya, Edwin Coe and Bindmans. Leading the charge was Blackstone Chambers’ Lord Pannick QC as well as Maitland Chambers’ Dominic Chambers QC and Matrix Chambers’ Jessica Simor QC, Helen Mountfield QC and Rhodri Thompson QC.
Representing the UK Government, the Attorney General instructed Blackstone’s James Eadie QC and 11KBW’s Jason Coppel QC.
The eight judges in favour of upholding the High Court decision were: Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption and Lord Hodge. Dissenting were: Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath and Lord Hughe.
Summarising the 96-page Supreme Court ruling, a statement from the courts read: “Put briefly, our reasons are as follows. Section 2 of the 1972 Act provides that, whenever EU institutions make new laws, those new laws become part of UK law. The 1972 Act therefore makes EU law an independent source of UK law, until Parliament decides otherwise. Therefore, when the UK withdraws from the EU Treaties, a source of UK law will be cut off. Further, certain rights enjoyed by UK citizens will be changed. Therefore, the Government cannot trigger Article 50 without Parliament authorising that course.
“The referendum is of great political significance, but the Act of Parliament which established it did not say what should happen as a result. So any change in the law to give effect to the referendum must be made in the only way permitted by the UK constitution, namely by an Act of Parliament. To proceed otherwise would be a breach of settled constitutional principles stretching back many centuries.
“Subsequent events are entirely consistent with the proposition that the Government has no power to withdraw from the EU Treaties without an authorising Act of Parliament.”
The legal line-up
For the first claimant, Gina Miller
Blackstone Chambers’ Lord Pannick QC and Tom Hickman, Matrix Chambers’ Rhodri Thompson QC, and Monckton Chambers’ Anneli Howard, instructed by Mishcon de Reya partners Rob Murray and Kasra Nouroozi
For the second claimant, Deir Tozetti Dos Santos
Maitland Chambers’ Dominic Chambers QC and Benjamin John, and Matrix Chambers’ Jessica Simor QC, instructed by Edwin Coe
For the defendant, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Blackstone Chambers’ James Eadie QC, and 11KBW’s Jason Coppel QC, Tom Cross and Christopher Knight, instructed by the Attorney General
For the first interested party, the People’s Challenge
Matrix Chambers’ Helen Mountfield QC, Monckton Chambers’ Gerry Facenna QC and Jack Williams, and Brick Court Chambers’ Tim Johnson, instructed by Bindmans partner John Halford
For the second interested party, AB, KK, PR and Children
No 5 Chambers’ Manjit Gill QC and Ramby de Mello, and 43 Temple Row Chambers’ Tony Muman
For the interveners, George Birnie and ors
Henderson Chambers’ Patrick Green QC, Henry Warwick, Paul Skinner and Matthieu Gregoire
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