Case C-621/18 | Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Author (Corporate)
Series Details C-621/18
Publication Date 2018
Content Type


The Court of Justice of the European Union was asked by different stakeholders in the United Kingdom whether a Member State which has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with Article 50 TEU may unilaterally revoke that notification and, if so, subject to what conditions.

The Court's Advocate General issued a non-binding Opinion on 4 December 2018 stating that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. On 10 December, the Court of Justice issued a judgement confirming the considerations put forward by the Advocate General.

Further information:

A cross-party group of politicians and campaigners initially took the case to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, which ultimately agreed to pass it to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Two attempts by the UK Government to appeal against the referral were rejected, and at a hearing both the UK Government and the EU institutions opposed this case.

The Advocate General considers that Article 50 can be unilaterally revoked until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded. However, that possibility of unilateral revocation is subject to certain conditions and limits. The revocation must be decided upon in accordance with the Member State's constitutional requirements, it must be formally notified to the European Council and must not involve an abusive practice.

On 10 December, the Court of Justice's judgement confirmed that such a revocation, decided in accordance with the UK's own national constituional requirements, would have the effect that the United Kingdom remained in the European Union under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State.

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Commentary and Analysis
EU Law Analysis, 04.12.18: Revoking the notice to withdraw from the EU? The opinion in Wightman
New Statesman, 04.12.18: Article 50 can be revoked, says the EU’s top lawyer. So what does that mean for Brexit?
The Guardian, 04.12.18: Britain can legally cancel Brexit. That’s EU advice – but will parliament agree?
EU Law Analysis, 10.12.18: Brexit: you can U-turn if you want to. The CJEU judgment in Wightman
Open Europe: Blog, 11.12.18: What does the ECJ decision on Article 50 mean?
UK Constitutional Law Association: Revoking Article 50 TEU (C-621/18 Wightman and others): 'Iphigenia Must Reach the Altar'
UK in a Changing Europe: Analysis, 11.12.18: Revoking Article 50 after the ECJ’s ruling
The Conversation, 10.12.18: Article 50 can be revoked: here’s what it means for Brexit
European Law Blog, 11.12.18: Case C-621/18, Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union: The European Court of Justice confirms that Article 50 notification can be unilaterally revoked
Verfassungsblog, 10.12.18: Sovereign Choices: The CJEU’s Ruling on Exit from Brexit
University of Bristol: Law School Blog, 14.12.18: A call for the revocation of Article 50
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 20.12.18: The legal issues of revoking the notification to leave the EU – but then notifying to leave again

BBC News, 27.11.18: Brexit court case 'could lead to disaster', EU lawyers warn
Politico, 04.12.18: EU top judge: UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50
The Guardian, 04.12.18: UK can stop article 50 without EU approval, top ECJ adviser says
EurActiv, 04.12.18: UK could halt Brexit unilaterally, says EU’s top judge
BBC News, 10.12.18: Brexit ruling: UK can cancel decision, EU court says
The Guardian, 10.12.18: Brexit: UK can unilaterally revoke article 50, says ECJ
Politico, 10.12.18: UK can withdraw Brexit notification, ECJ rules

CJEU: Press Release, 04.12.18: Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-621/18 - Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
CJEU: Press Release, 10.12.18: Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-621/18 Wightman and Others

ESO Records
Article 50 TEU: Withdrawal of a Member State from the EU

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