Article 50 ‘Brexit’ Appeal. R (on the application of Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and associated references, 5-8 December 2016. Ruling, 24 January 2017

Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 24/01/2017
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Further background information sources can be found in ESO:

+ Article 50 - Article 50 TEU: Withdrawal of a Member State from the EU

+ Northern Ireland Legal Challenges, October 2016 - Belfast court rejects two challenges to Brexit

+ Legal Challenge in UK High Court - Hearings, October 2016 - Court battle looms over Brexit legality

+ Legal Challenge in UK High Court - Judgment, 3 November 2016 - High Court ruling on Article 50: Statement

+ UK Government response to judgment and lodging of appeal - Oral statement to Parliament. Process for invoking Article 50: Ministerial statement 7 November 2016. See also the links within the Record to the Grounds of Appeal to the Supreme Court of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

+ Role of the Devolved Administrations - Scottish Government will intervene in Article 50 legal case

+ Role of the ECJ? - Brexit and the EU Court

+ Speech by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Lancaster House, 17 January 2017 outlining the UK government Brexit strategy including the role for the UK Parliament.

+ Analysis of the UK media response to the Supreme Court ruling of the 24 January 2017 by the UCL The Constitution UnitIn an important judgment given on 3 November 2016 the High Court in London ruled that only Parliament had the authority to trigger Article 50 of the European Union treaty, the legal route for Britain to leave the EU. This meant that the UK government could not trigger Article 50 without involving parliament.

The judges highlighted that the judgment was not a political issue. It was purely constitutional.

The UK Government appealed the judgment.

The appeal was heard at the UK's highest court, the Supreme Court, from 5-8 December 2016, with a ruling given on the 24 January 2017.

Note, that in addition to the appeal concerning the case brought in the UK High Court in November 2016, the Supreme Court also considered two references on specific legal questions from the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.

The Judgment
The Supreme Court by a majority of 8 to 3 dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal (Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption and Lord Hodge in the majority with Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath and Lord Hughes dissenting). In a joint judgment of the majority, the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament was required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union. Each of the dissenting justices gave a separate judgment.

On the devolution issues, the court unanimously concluded that neither section 1 nor section 75 of the NIA was of assistance in this case, and that the Sewel Convention did not give rise to a legally enforceable obligation (ie. the UK Government did not have to consult the legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

The UK Government responded in a statement: 'The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict – triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today’s ruling does nothing to change that.

It’s important to remember that Parliament backed the referendum by a margin of 6 to 1 and has already indicated its support for getting on with the process of exit to the timetable we have set out.

We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, and will set out our next steps to Parliament shortly'.

On the 25 January 2017 Mrs May announced in parliament after pressure from many MPs that the UK government would formally publish a White Paper with their Brexit plans in the coming weeks.

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ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
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United Kingdom: The Supreme Court: Article 50 'Brexit' Appeal. R (on the application of Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and associated references, 5-8 December 2016. Ruling, 24 January 2017 [Full text of ruling]
Blog: Open Europe, 24.01.17: Theresa May should be able to take this defeat in her stride
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Blog: Verfassungsblog, 06.02.17: The ‘Elegant Way’ of the Constitution (by Pavlos Eleftheriadis)

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