The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, the result is clearly not what most had expected. Even those that led the “Leave” campaign seemed to be working on hope rather than reality and those opposed simply did not think it would happen.
The period of uncertainty will continue for some time until the political world sorts itself out. The summer saw quiet reflection on the vote and its effect. When the political decisions are made the legal profession, in and out of government, will get to work on dealing with the outcome, seeking to create certainty out of the current chaos.
Within this area of the website we have highlighted some key areas for businesses to consider as our Brexit journey evolves.
Brexit: Article 50 update (as at 22 November 2016)
The ruling handed down by the Lord Chief Justice Thomas at the High Court on 3 November 2016 is, as many have asserted, the most important judgment relating to constitutional law in a generation. The Court has ruled that the Government has no power under the Royal Prerogative to invoke Article 50. This historic decision of fundamental constitutional importance is in favour of the position asserted by Dier Dos Santos, who is represented by Edwin Coe, and others. The consequence of this is that before Article 50 can be invoked Parliament must express its assent. The court expressed no view as to how Parliament should exercise its assent.
Since the handing down of the judgment there has been further significant debate, both legal and political. It therefore comes as no surprise considering the magnitude of the Article 50 case that the Government has decided to appeal against the landmark decision of the High Court to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court announced on 8 November 2016 that permission would be granted to the Government to appeal against the judgment of the High Court in the Article 50 case. On 18 November, in a further development, the Supreme Court ruled that both the Scottish and Welsh Governments could intervene in the appeal with it also emerging that Northern Ireland’s attorney general, John Larkin QC, will also be called upon in the hearing. This will add further complexity to the proceedings with the Government facing unique constitutional arguments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the robust High Court judgment relied upon by the Claimants. The final cases from both parties will be heard from 5-8 December 2016, with a final judgment to follow in the New Year.
Edwin Coe won the Rule of Law Award for its Article 50 litigation at the Solicitors Journal Awards 2017.
David Greene is recommended for his diverse and international caseload.
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