Monday 5 December 2016

The Brexit appeal

Updated 9th December

On 3rd November, the High Court handed down its judgment in a case that, for ease of reference, we may just call Miller - here is the High Court judgment.  The court concluded that the Secretary of State does not have power under the Crown's prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 of the TEU for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.  The government appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.  The High Court judgment stands unless the Supreme Court overrules it. 

Others then became involved as "interested parties", or as "interveners" (e.g. the Lord Advocate for Scotland and the Counsel General for Wales) and there were also two "references" to the court from Northern Ireland.

More information:

Supreme Court’s website and Article 50 Brexit appeal - links to all the written cases

This previous post offered a pre-hearing summary of the appeal.


Day 1 - Morning and afternoon combined (PDF) 

Day 2 - Morning and afternoon combined (PDF)

Day 3 - Morning and afternoon combined (PDF)

Day 4 - Morning and afternoon combined (PDF)

View the Hearings:

Supreme Court - Links to video of the hearings

Overview of Day 1:

UK Supreme Court blog

Overview of Day 2:

UK Supreme Court blog 

Overview of Day 3

UK Supreme Court blog 

Overview of Day 4

UK Supreme Court blog
Opening remarks on Day 1 from the President of the Supreme Court:

The President (Lord Neuberger) began by making a statement.  The essentials of this were: 

1.  Court ORDERED that no one shall publish or reveal the names or addresses of various parties, prospective claimants and interested parties in these proceedings, or any information likely to lead to the identification of those people or their families, in connection with these proceedings, or the home address of the first respondent or any of the interested parties. Copies of this order with further details will be available to anybody who wishes to see it. We have made this order largely because various individuals have received threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse in emails and other electronic communications. Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law. Anyone who communicates such threats or abuse should be aware that there are legal powers designed to ensure that access to the courts is available to everybody.

2.  At the direction of the court, the Registrar had asked all the parties involved whether they wished to ask any of the justices to stand down.  All parties to the appeal had stated that they had no objection to any of the judges sitting on the appeal.  My note: This was a very sensible request and answers a considerable amount of critical media comment aimed both at the court in general and at certain of the Justices.

3.  The President thanked all concerned for their efforts to get the appeal heard quickly.

4.  Advocates reminded not to repeat points already raised by others.

5.  The court's website and television enabled many to watch the hearing.  This was a very important aspect of open justice.  The court was pleased that so many people are able to read the written arguments online and listen to the oral arguments as they are being developed.

6.  Finally, the President noted that the Supreme Court exists  to decide points of law which fall within its jurisdiction. The justices of the court are of course aware of the public interest in this case, and we are aware of the strong feelings associated with the many other wider political questions surrounding the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.  However, as will be apparent from the arguments before us, those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal. This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we will do.

The submissions then commenced with "Mr Attorney" (Her Majesty's Attorney-General) setting the scene.  The baton then passed to Mr James Eadie QC to present the detailed arguments of the government.

The Eleven Justices - 5th December 2016
 Left to right: Lords Hughes, Reed, Wilson, Kerr, Lady Hale, Lords Neuberger, Mance, Clarke, Sumption, Carnwath and Hodge.

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