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Top law firm launch legal challenge to stop Article 50 being invoked without an Act of Parliament

(81 Posts)
EdieParfitt Sun 03-Jul-16 21:59:34

Heard about this on another MN thread. Here's the press release

Article 50 process on Brexit faces legal challenge to ensure parliamentary involvement

Legal steps have been taken to ensure the UK Government will not trigger the procedure for withdrawal from the EU without an Act of Parliament. The case is being brought by leading law firm, Mishcon de Reya, on behalf of a group of clients. Following publication of articles on the subject this week Mishcon de Reya has retained Baron David Pannick QC and Tom Hickman to act as counsel in this action, along with Rhodri Thompson QC and Anneli Howard.

The Referendum held on 23 June was an exercise to obtain the views of UK citizens, the majority of whom expressed a desire to leave the EU. But the decision to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union, the legal process for withdrawal from the EU, rests with the representatives of the people under the UK Constitution.

The Government however, has suggested that it has sufficient legal authority. Mishcon de Reya has been in correspondence with the Government lawyers since 27 June 2016 on behalf of its clients to seek assurances that the Government will uphold the UK constitution and protect the sovereignty of Parliament in invoking Article 50.

If the correct constitutional process of parliamentary scrutiny and approval is not followed then the notice to withdraw from the EU would be unlawful, negatively impacting the withdrawal negotiations and our future political and economic relationships with the EU and its 27 Member States, and open to legal challenge. This legal action seeks to ensure that the Article 50 notification process is lawful.

Kasra Nouroozi, Partner, Mishcon de Reya said:

We must ensure that the Government follows the correct process to have legal certainty and protect the UK Constitution and the sovereignty of Parliament in these unprecedented circumstances. The result of the Referendum is not in doubt, but we need a process that follows UK law to enact it. The outcome of the Referendum itself is not legally binding and for the current or future Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 without the approval of Parliament is unlawful.

We must make sure this is done properly for the benefit of all UK citizens. Article 50 simply cannot be invoked without a full debate and vote in Parliament. Everyone in Britain needs the Government to apply the correct constitutional process and allow Parliament to fulfil its democratic duty which is to take into account the results of the Referendum along with other factors and make the ultimate decision.

Anyone wishing to support the action to ensure that the UK Constitution is upheld in this process should email

If you have an enquiry please visit

To read more about this from the Financial Times, please click here. Please note this is a subscription based website.

JudyCoolibar Sun 03-Jul-16 22:04:35

Good. I really don't think it can be described as a democratic process unless it is approved by Parliament.

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:04:49

The case is being brought by leading law firm, Mishcon de Reya, on behalf of a group of clients.

Does anyone know who the clients are I bet they include David Cameron?

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:06:19

I am also happy about this.

YourPerception Sun 03-Jul-16 22:07:53

There will be more than a petition and march of this happens and the politicians know it.

EdieParfitt Sun 03-Jul-16 22:08:05

Does anyone have a FT subscription so they can read the article mentioned at the end of the press release?

EdieParfitt Sun 03-Jul-16 22:08:42

If what happens?

whydidhesaythat Sun 03-Jul-16 22:09:50

This firm traditionally works for rich individuals

BellwetherBlether Sun 03-Jul-16 22:10:51

This has the potential to bring about the fall of western civilisation.

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:14:33

If it comes to MPs voting against the referendum result, it will be because they feel pressure from their constituents and because they are duty bound in an ideal world to act in what they perceive to be the best interests of the country.

I don't think that enough constituencies voted remain for the referendum result not to be acted on sadly.

Jaimx86 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:14:39


fakenamefornow Sun 03-Jul-16 22:15:58

Oh, god, a ray of hope.

Breadandruses Sun 03-Jul-16 22:16:05

There will be more than a petition and march of this happens and the politicians know it
But leave voters are all about parliamentary sovereignty!

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:19:40

MangoMoon Sun 03-Jul-16 22:26:08


I wonder who their very rich clients are then?!

If the MPs each represent the will of how their constituents voted, then what would an in/out parliamentary vote outcome look like?

Does anyone know off the top of their heads?

CaptainBrickbeard Sun 03-Jul-16 22:26:42

Well, if it is the case that it would be unlawful for the PM to invoke Article 50 without an Act of Parliament then surely it's in the Brexiteers' interests that it happens so that the process can't be challenged? If it has to be done - and I hope it hasn't got to be, personally - then it's better that it's done properly, isn't it? Why will it end western civilisation? Does the UK really have the power to end western civilisation anyway, whatever happens? Isn't it more likely to be Trump that does that?

Mistigri Sun 03-Jul-16 22:31:39

It did strike me that this ought to be welcomed by the leavers. No sane government wants to trigger a constitutional crisis.

tiggytape Sun 03-Jul-16 22:39:31

Oh, god, a ray of hope.
Are you serious? I don't thinking potentially heralding in an era of far right politics constitutes anything like hope at all.

In theory all MPs have said they will abide by the vote so all MPs would then duty bound to support the vote in Parliament. Even if you water that down and say MPs are only duty bound to represent their constituents not the whole country (leaving London MPs free to vote Remain) most MPs would still be duty bound to vote leave

There were 399 counting areas. 270 voted to leave.
The voting areas don't match exactly to constituencies but, as a rough proportion of areas nationally, 68% voted to leave.

I haven't read the article behind the paywall so this could be press spin on the technicalities and debates on how Article 50 is invoked (or even if it needs to be - eg talk in recent days about the PM simply repealing the Act that brought in EU laws anyway)

However if we are seriously contemplating a world where wealthy bankers pay lawyers to serve their interests against the largest vote in British history and MPs agree to use that opportunity to overrule people - even where 60+% believe differently to them - then we open our nation up to a right wing backlash and a constitutional crisis on a scale it scares me to imagine and that will make leaving the EU seem pretty small fry in comparison.

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:41:47

37% of the electorate thought differently

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:43:39

And IMO the constitutional crisis has begun. The referendum is not a sound enough basis to proceed with such a massive and irreversible change.

Spinflight Sun 03-Jul-16 22:43:59

I posted this on another thread but it is probably more relevant here..

From Hansard...

Column 497, Hammond:

“Let me be clear; the Government will respect the outcome of the referendum, whatever the result. There will be no second referendum. The propositions on the ballot paper are clear, and I want to be equally clear today. Leave means leave, and a vote to leave will trigger a notice under article 50. To do otherwise in the event of a vote to leave would represent a complete disregard of the will of the people. No individual, no matter how charismatic or prominent, has the right or the power to redefine unilaterally the meaning of the question on the ballot paper.”

“A vote to leave would trigger a fixed two-year time period under the treaty for the UK to negotiate the terms of our exit from, and our future relationship with, the EU.”

Column 498, after Salmond had asked:

“Before notification was given under article 50, given that the referendum is an advisory one in terms of the constitution, would there be a vote in Parliament?”

“The Government’s position is that the referendum is an advisory one, but the Government will regard themselves as being bound by the decision of the referendum and will proceed with serving an article 50 notice.”

If the MPs had wanted a vote after the referendum they could have tabled a motion to have that included in the legislation, they didn't.

Hence parliament's sovereignty is unaffected as they voted for this but had the opportunity to demand a vote in the legislation should they so have wished.

BeenThereDoneThatForgotten Sun 03-Jul-16 22:45:44

The wealthy bankers will be moved elsewhere post haste and the rest of the economy will crumble behind.

whydidhesaythat Sun 03-Jul-16 22:47:33

Bother I think you are right
So we were stuffed from the start.
What about Tony Blair's view?

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:48:31

This motion has been tabled recently:

crossroads3 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:50:09

I cannot believe that MPs would have slept walked into this in this way, but it appears that they have sad.

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