The UK Supreme Court today ruled that the government cannot trigger Article 50 - which would begin the Brexit process - without a vote in Parliament.
Hazel Moffat, Litigation & Regulatory partner, said:
"By a majority of 8 to 3, the Supreme Court has ruled that the UK Government must seek Parliamentary approval in the form of legislation in order to trigger Article 50. The result will be a blow to the UK Government, but one for which it has been preparing. However the extent of Government's loss has been limited. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the Government does not require to either consult or seek the consent of the devolved governments. By doing so, the Supreme Court has removed at least one material political obstacle from the path of the Government.
"By requiring approval of the UK Parliament in the form of primary legislation the UK Government still has a challenge in securing passage of the Bill in both the form it wishes and in the strict timescales required to deliver on its plan to trigger Article 50. The Government is said to have prepared various versions of a draft Bill ready to be introduced within the next week depending upon the Supreme Court ruling. Whether its anticipated brevity and simplicity will help curtail debate and scope for amendment in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords - essential if it is to achieve its ambitious timetable of triggering Article 50 by the end of March - remains a major challenge. Managing the House of Lords in particular in this process may prove difficult.
"So, some, but not all of the legal uncertainty following the Brexit referendum now disappears. There are also other legal proceedings in the offing, not least as to whether the Article 50 notice, once given, can be revoked. It is unlikely that we have seen the end of court involvement in the Brexit unwind."