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BREXIT: Scottish government to intervene in Brexit court case

The Scottish government plans to intervene in the UK government's appeal against a High Court ruling on the triggering of Article 50, it has said.09 Nov 2016

The High Court said last week that the UK government must seek a vote in parliament before it can trigger Article 50.

Upholding a claim for judicial review brought by businesswoman Gina Miller and others (32-page / 3MB PDF), three High Court judges ruled that when parliament passed the 1972 European Communities Act, it did not override its own sovereignty. Invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union could not therefore be done unilaterally by the government, through the use of the Crown prerogative, according to the court.

The Scottish government believes that the Scottish Parliament should also be formally consulted. The Lord Advocate will lodge a formal application to intervene in the appeal, the Scottish government said.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The Scottish Government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect devolved interests and rights in Scotland. And triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of rights and freedoms which they currently enjoy."

"It simply cannot be right that those rights can be removed by the UK government on the say-so of a prime minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent. So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered," Sturgeon said.

"Let me be clear - I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process. But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter," she said.

The UK government has already indicated its intention to appeal the High Court decision, which is likely to be held in the Supreme Court in December.

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the formal legal process by which a member state can leave the trading bloc. Once 'triggered', a member state has two years in which to conclude negotiations and exit the EU. The wording states that a member state must do so "in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". The UK government has consistently maintained that this permits the use of its executive powers, bypassing the need for a parliamentary vote.