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Supreme Court REFUSES to hear Belgium-based White & Case lawyer’s case on why she should be able to vote in EU referendum

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EU competition partner at US giant has no right to vote because she has lived outside the UK for more than 15 years

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The Supreme Court has refused to hear an emergency case about whether British expats who have lived abroad from more than 15 years can vote in the upcoming EU referendum.

This is the latest twist in a long-running legal saga championed by White & Case partner and British expat Jacquelyn MacLennan (pictured below). The 54 year-old Belgium-based EU competition solicitor, who is originally from Inverness, brought the legal challenge along with 95 year-old war veteran Harry Shindler.

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The appellants are both British expats who are unable to vote in the referendum because they have lived abroad for 29 and 35 years respectively.

Represented by law firm Leigh Day and Matrix Chambers barristers Aidan O’Neill QC, Christopher Brown and Anita Davies, the pair have argued that their disenfranchisement is an unjustified restriction on their common law right to vote, and that this law acts as an unlawful penalty against Brits who have exercised their EU law free movement rights.

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MacLennan and Shindler’s case has been whizzed up to the highest court in the land just in time for the referendum, and it certainly hasn’t been plain sailing getting there.

The appellants suffered a unanimous defeat in the Court of Appeal just last Friday. The bench ruled that the law in question — the EU Referendum Act 2015 — doesn’t fall within the scope of EU law, a result University of Edinburgh-educated MacLennan described as disappointing. She said:

I hope the Supreme Court will agree that the 15-year rule is wrong and unlawful in the context of the EU referendum. Brexit would have a huge impact on my personal and professional life.

But, unfortunately for her, the Supreme Court did not agree. Lady Hale, speaking on behalf of herself and Lords Mance, Sumption, Reed and Hughes, said that she had “considerable sympathy” for MacLennan — who was in court today to observe — and Shindler, but was unable to discern a legal basis for the challenge. Permission to appeal was therefore refused.

If the appeal had been successful, British expats who have lived outside of the UK for more than 15 years may have been able to vote on 23 June. This decision would have increased the electorate by up to two million people, and potentially have had a decisive impact on the referendum result.

18 Comments

ALawyer

Lawyer in Belgium who has not lived in the UK for 29 years, specialises in EU Competition law and has previously worked for the European Commission, wants to vote in EU Referendum, I wonder which way she might vote?

(42)(15)

Anonymous

Whether someone might vote yay or nay ought to be entirely irrelevant to whether they ought to be included in the electorate.

The thought of British citizens being disenfranchised like this from participating in what will undoubtedly be a momentous British decision about the future of their country and their own futures ought to have give anyone – from liberal to libertarian – the chills.

(26)(6)

Anonymous

Who cares? They haven’t lived here in years. The woman in particular has probably lived less of her life here than she has in another country. Why should she be allowed to vote on this?

(10)(12)

Scep Tick

As opposed to British citizens whose decision may possibly have been overturned because of the wishes of people who have not lived here for three decades?

(3)(3)

Not Amused

The EU is just a cult p

(6)(16)

Anonymous

Are you ever amused?

(7)(0)

Always Amused

Of course! Oh sorry, you weren’t referring to me.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

It’s disgraceful that UK citizens living abroad have been disenfranchised, though I rather agree with the court that it’s a political disgrace rather than a legal one. I can even see the argument for denying them the right to vote in general elections – parliament’s actions don’t really affect them a great deal – but EU membership is integral to their lives if they live in the EU. They might get shafted without having the right to vote at all, despite holding that British passport.

People who claim to be in favour of freedom and democracy while quietly cheering that British expats won’t be allowed to vote, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Yes we all know they would mostly vote to remain. So what? I thought Brexiteers loved democracy. Just not when it isn’t democracy in their favour, apparently.

(18)(4)

Holofernes

If they have lived abroad in another EU member state for more than 5 years then they should have applied for permanent residency so they wouldn’t exactly be shafted back to the EU…

(5)(7)

Anonymous

Why? It’s a lengthy process to apply for residency and often holds certain requirements. The EU ensured that they didn’t have to so they haven’t done anything wrong or stupid by not doing so.

(3)(1)

patriot

Your clearly an idiot!

(3)(3)

patriot

Live here and pay taxes. Selfish, always think of yourself instead of the country as being greater than yourself! Remain camp behave like prostitutes: lets trade values for money.

(2)(8)

Anonymous

Why are you on a legal website? Your abysmal grasp of English makes it clear that you aren’t a lawyer or a law student (unless you are at one of the toilet unis).

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I also suspect that he (less likely, she) is just some web-wandering Brexit loon and not a law student. But I wouldn’t use poor English as the test. This site shows how badly many law students write, including those apparently at the better universities.

(2)(2)

Edward Bernays

Funny that you call him a brexit loon. It is clear that you are one of those persons that have been indoctrinated through mass media, and only think whatever you are told to think.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Argumentum ad hominem. Typical.

(0)(0)

patriot

Always talking weak on the world stage! Totally unprofessional politics. Along with the idiotic indoctrinated younger generation who can’t see past yheir nose. Now they champion giving up sovereignty for an EU super-state.

(2)(5)

Dr Evil

That’s in Belgium! That’s where Daddy’s from.

See Mini-me go mental on account of the chocolate. It’s like freakin’ catnip for clones!

(0)(0)

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