In a case brought by anti-Brexit campaign group, People’s Challenge, and led by investment manager Gina Miller against the newly created Secretary of State for Existing the EU, the High Court of Justice (Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division) was asked to consider whether the Crown – acting through the executive Government of the day – is entitled to use its prerogative powers to give notice under article 50 for the United Kingdom to cease to be a member of the European Union or, on the contrary, whether it must seek approval from Parliament.

In a Judgment issued by three prestigious judges (the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Sales, sitting as High Court judges in the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division), the High Court has ruled that Government does not have the power to trigger Article 50 alone and must seek the approval of MPs. The claimant’s main argument is that as a constitutional matter, the Government is not entitled to change domestic law nor affect rights enjoyed by citizens (inevitable consequences of Brexit) without Parliament’s approval.

Following an exhaustive review of the Treaty on European Union (amended by the Lisbon Treaty), the fundamental rule of the UK constitution that Parliament is sovereign and can make and unmake any law it chooses, and the Crown’s prerogative powers, the High Court has decided unanimously that the relevant EU Treaties affected domestic legislation and rights enjoyed by citizens, and that the said effects could not be removed simply through action by the Crown under its prerogative powers.

The Government has been given permission by the Supreme Court to appeal against the High Court ruling.

Click here to download the Judgment.