In a case of fundamental constitutional importance, the
High Court ruled this morning that the UK Government has no power
to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union to
withdraw from the European Union, without an Act of Parliament.
The High Court held that the Government cannot, by exercise of
prerogative powers, override the rights of UK citizens conferred by
the enactment by Parliament of the European Communities Act 1972.
In making this decision, reliance was placed by the High Court on
the constitutional principle of Parliamentary sovereignty: that
unless Parliament legislates to the contrary, the Government's
prerogative power does not extend to amending domestic law enacted
by Parliament, which the Government has accepted will be an effect
of triggering Article 50.
The Government has indicated that it will appeal against the
judgment. A "leapfrog" process bypassing the Court of
Appeal and appealing straight to the Supreme Court is underway,
with the High Court having already issued a certificate permitting
this process. If leave to appeal is granted, the Supreme Court has
indicated that it will hear the case from 5 to 8 December 2016,
with a larger than usual panel of judges. The average waiting time
for Supreme Court judgments is two to four months, but we would
expect that the judgment will be handed down on an expedited basis
given its importance.
In the meantime, the decision that Parliament faces will be
challenging, with many people suggesting that the results of the
democratic referendum should not be blocked by Parliament.
Today's ruling means that businesses need to prepare for a
potential delay from the original March timeline for invoking
Article 50. In general, the legal and commercial uncertainty
surrounding Brexit continues and financial institutions, asset
managers, companies and investors, among others, will need to
continue to follow developments and plan accordingly.
The judgment ((Gina Miller & Dos Santos) v Secretary of
State for Exiting the European Union  EWHC 2768 (Admin)) is
here, a summary
here and the case page
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