Several major Brexit-related court cases have dominated the news with their highs and lows, with more to come – here’s your guide in case it’s all starting to get confusing.
– Belfast High Court
A legal challenge that argued the government’s Brexit strategy would damage the Northern Ireland peace process was dismissed on Thursday.
Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey said the issues raised by three joined cases touched on political matters that the courts should not intervene on.
“I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute,” he said.
“Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.
“Within the world of politics, the well-recognised phenomena of claim and counter-claim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alteration and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society.”
– High Court in London
It took leading judges almost a week to return their reasons for rejecting the case brought by businesswoman Gina Miller about the prorogation of parliament.
Judges said the decision to suspend parliament was “purely political” and therefore not capable of challenge in the courts.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and president of the Queen’s Bench Division Dame Victoria Sharp delivered their ruling at a brief hearing in London on Wednesday.
In their judgment, they stated: “We concluded that the decision of the prime minister was not justiciable [capable of challenge]. It is not a matter for the courts.”
They added: “The prime minister’s decision that parliament should be prorogued at the time and for the duration chosen and the advice given to Her Majesty to do so in the present case were political.
“They were inherently political in nature and there are no legal standards against which to judge their legitimacy.”
– Edinburgh Court of Session
Three judges at Scotland’s highest civil court ruled on Wednesday that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to Brexit was “unlawful”.
MORE: Boris Johnson broke the law suspending parliament, Scottish court rulesThe Court of Session case, brought by a group of around 70 parliamentarians, appealed against an earlier ruling by Judge Lord Doherty, who dismissed the challenge, saying it was for politicians and not the courts to decide.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Lord Carloway told the court: “We are of the opinion that the advice given by the Government to Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful and that the prorogation itself was unlawful.”
He referred the matter to the UK Supreme Court for resolution.
The government said it was “disappointed” by the decision and would be appealing to the UK’s Supreme Court.
Boris Johnson was then forced to deny that he lied to the Queen in order to secure the suspension of parliament.
– Supreme Court, London
All eyes will be on the Supreme Court on September 17, when the government appeals against the Court of Session ruling.
If it rules prorogation was unlawful, the government would almost certainly have to advise the Queen to recall parliament immediately.
But the Supreme Court could rule that parliament was never prorogued and is still in session, meaning that there is no need to recall parliament.
Either way, if the Supreme Court rules that the prorogation was unlawful, it is likely that parliament will have to return very quickly, potentially in the middle of the party conference season.
– Edinburgh Court of Session – Inner House
In a nother upcoming case, a legal action addressed at Boris Johnson personally seeks to empower the Inner House to write to the EU requestion an Article 50 extension on the prime minister’s behalf.
MORE: Legal bid could empower Scottish court to extend Article 50 on Boris Johnson’s behalfThe case, brought by Ecotricity entrepreneur Dale Vince with Joanna Cherry QC MP and Jolyon Maugham, follows the anti-no deal Benn Act which legally obliges the government to either secure a deal with the EU by October 19 or request an extension.
It is the same team that brought the successful case which declared the prorogation of parliament unlawful.