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High Court Blocks Fresh Legal Challenge

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The Government has won a victory in the latest Brexit challenge today. The high court has blocked a legal challenge to the government’s strategy for leaving the single market and the European Economic Area.

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Two senior judges took less than an hour to dismiss an application for a fresh judicial review on the Brexit process brought by two sets of claimants.

This will be seen as a victory for Brexiteers, who this week saw Parliament voting by a margin of 498 to 114 in favour of giving the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50 and effectively commence negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union.

When detailing their reasons for turning down the judicial review application, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones stated, “In our judgment these present claims are premature. The relevant situations against which the claims might be assessed, have not yet occurred.”

The facts of the case

This latest application for judicial review focused on the proposal for Britain to leave the EEA. The claimants tried to argue that Theresa May has to trigger another legal measure - Article 127 of the European Economic Area agreement - in order to officially leave the European Economic Area (EEA).

Article 127 states, “Each contracting party may withdraw from this agreement provided it gives at least 12 months’ notice in writing to the other contracting parties.”

According to the Guardian, George Peretz QC, for the lead claimants, told the court that the government’s failure to specify what legal mechanism it would use for quitting the EEA was in danger of creating, “profound legal uncertainty and chaos”.

However, the Government argued that Britain automatically leaves the EU when it quits the single market. A Government spokesperson told the Telegraph, “The UK is party to the EEA agreement only in its capacity as an EU member state. Once the UK leaves the EU, the EEA agreement will automatically cease to apply to the UK.”

Following today’s judgment, a government spokesperson said, “We are glad this attempt to seek a judicial review has been dismissed. As the prime minister has said, we will not be a member of the single market and we will be seeking a broad new partnership with the EU including a bold and ambitious free trade agreement.”

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