Financial & Legal News

Brexit Wrangle Continues with New Court Decision

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The Divisional Court has upheld an application brought against the Government, and held that the Government does not have prerogative power to invoke Article 50 without a vote by Parliament.

In other words, Parliament needs to vote in favour of doing so before Article 50 is invoked.  Theresa May (or, more probably, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) cannot invoke it without Parliament's approval.

By handing responsibility for initiating Brexit over to MPs, the three senior judges – Lord Thomas; the master of the rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales – have ventured on to constitutionally untested ground.

The lord chief justice said that “the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that parliament is sovereign”.

The legal dispute focused on article 50 of the treaty on European Union, which states that any member state may leave “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements” – an undefined term allowing both sides to pursue rival interpretations.

The judgment, delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, may slow Britain’s departure from the EU.

However, ministers will appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision in a hearing on December 7 - 8.

Commenting on the news, Susan Mayall, head of Employment at Pearson said:  “I always say employment law is constantly changing and the Brexit upheavals seem to echo this. 

“I am sure business owners would like to see some stability and move forward, but our constitution empowers parliament, not the government, to take decisions and so we await the latest outcome and possible Supreme Court decision.”

This is possibly the most important constitutional case of the century, already the Divisional Court has certified the case as suitable for a 'leapfrog' appeal straight to the Supreme Court - although the Supreme Court still needs to give permission.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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