Brexit lawsuit hearing set for October

31 January 2017 9:56am

19 July 2016. By Sille Ruubel.

A lawsuit challenging the UK prime minister’s right to trigger a formal procedure to withdraw from the EU will be heard in mid-October, a London court said today.

Several British citizens claim that only the UK Parliament can initiate proceedings to end the UK’s membership in the bloc.

A panel of two senior High Court judges — Brian Leveson and Ross Cranston — heard arguments today on when a trial to hear “substantive” arguments should take place.

A hearing will be listed for “two days, with the opportunity to extend if necessary into a third day, starting on Oct. 15,” judge Leveson said.

The lawsuits broadly state that the country’s referendum on EU membership wasn’t binding and that only Parliament — not the prime minister — can authorize starting the UK’s formal withdrawal by activating Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

Under EU rules that have never been tested, countries that trigger Article 50 have two years to complete exit negotiations. The deadline can be extended if all EU members agree.

Supreme Court

Leveson said a High Court judgment could be “leapfrogged” to the UK’s highest court directly because the case deals with “issues of constitutional importance” and there should be a final decision before the government activates Article 50.

“Arrangements should be made to the Supreme Court to identify the possibility,” he said.

Bypassing the Court of Appeal may be allowed under exceptional circumstances.

Government lawyers told the court today that there will be no decision in relation to Article 50 before year-end.

Judge Leveson stressed that the court is taking this case “seriously” and “will move expeditiously.”

— British citizens —

The cases today were brought by British citizens, including Deir Dos Santos and Gina Miller, but many others are waiting to join in.

Barrister David Pannick, representing Gina Miller, will lead the case. Other parties can make arguments as “intervening parties,” the court said.

Leveson said the names of the people making the Miller claim will be redacted after incidents of “abuse” took place. There is a “real risk a behavior of this type is contempt of court,” he said.

The case numbers are:
CO/3281/2016, The Queen on the application of Santos v the Secretary of State of Exiting the EU;
CO/3527/2016 The Queen on the application of Hardy v the Secretary of State of Exiting the EU.

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