Crowd justice to the rescue

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Top QC calls on the crowd in their wisdom to clear up constitutional chaos


Jolyon Maugham QC of Devereux Chambers has today launched a crowd-funding campaign on CrowdJustice in order to raise £10,000 to instruct two UK constitutional law experts to give rapid and definitive advice as to what exactly is the meaning of “advisory” with regard to last week’s referendum.

Announcing the initiative Maugham said:

This is an incredibly important moment in our nation’s history. Everyone — those who voted both Leave and Remain — is entitled to be sure of the constitutional basis for removing the UK from the EU.

He hopes to raise £10,000 to enable John Halford of Bindmans to choose a QC and junior counsel, working at heavily discounted rates, to provide an opinion as to who, in law, has the referendum advised. Is it the PM who then decides whether to act on the advice? Or is it parliament who then must vote on whether the UK should follow the advice?

As well as seeking advice, Maugham intends to send a letter to the government asking them to explain their position.

He believes both steps are vital in order for people to be fully informed on what may turn out to be the most important public law case in living memory.

At time of writing nearly £8,000 had been raised so the target is within sight and with it the prospect of some clarity amidst the chaos.

Speaking to Legal Cheek, Maugham said:

It’s a momentous decision. It seems to me extraordinary that it might be taken by a member of the executive on the basis of an advisory opinion.


Although perhaps more likely given the events of the last week it may only be a precursor to those who disagree with the opinion setting up a CrowdJustice campaign to seek entirely contradictory advice from other UK constitutional law experts.

To help fund the QC’s project click here.



If he’s a ‘top QC’, I’d have thought £10k would be small change for him to pay!



This is one article where I agree with “top”.



Couldn’t do it for free I suppose


Not Amused

What utter rubbish. The clear plan is to undermine democracy, not to promote it.



Certainly was the case from some LEAVE campaigners to show their utter contempt for the law and democracy: “we can tear-up the fixed term parliament act”, “we can tear-up the European Communities Act, no need to trigger art 50 or negotiate”.



Legally and democratically they can though. The only thing holding them back is convention and common sense.



Just plain decency really – how could the public have trust in a government when at the first opportunity it gets it rips up one of the laws it was responsible for creating in the first place. How could future treaty partners take the UK seriously when entering into discussions?

They could just as well rip up the European Union Act 2011! What a stupid piece of legislation to start with – the people have to be consulted over changes in the EU, but we can do whatever deals we like with other parties!?



Not to mention their obligations under international law



It doesn’t matter who a barrister considers is most appropriately “advised”, in law, by the referendum. An advisory referendum is a political instrument, not a legal one. The best view is that everyone is advised by it.

Therefore any and all people holding elected office can ignore the referendum result. But they would be very, very stupid to do so.

I will supply bank details shortly for the transfer to me of the £10,000. Thank you.



It will achieve nothing. If the Prime Minister wants to notify unilaterally, then s/he will do so. They will say their own legal advice conflicts with this opinion, and say that where you have two lawyers, you have three opinions.

But if it is unlawful for the PM to do it under prerogative powers, then it can be judicially reviewed.

Practically, a PM would be a fool to ignore parliament, as it would be immediately inviting a legal challenge.

Also, if producing this QC’s opinion is so much in the public interest, is there really no QC of constitutional law who’s willing to give a pro bono opinion???

But clearly quite a few people feel it’s worth throwing some money at a QC, and it’s their money to spend.



or you could give your money to a real charity


Recovering Paralegal

Wrong question. Who cares “who” it advised. The referendum was advisory, so failure to act on it should only have political – not “constitutional” consequences.

The real issue is who has the power to trigger a treaty provision which will in effect render invalid an Act of Parliament: the European Communities Act 1972. Probably many other other Acts too.

I suspect not the Executive, who must act within the law.Changing the law is a task for the legislature.

I claim my £10,000.



“I don’t like the democratic result of the referendum and am prepared to chuck other people’s money at the matter in order to find a lawyer’s way of impeding the will of the majority”. Doesn’t read so well, does it?

Give the money to a charity and let the electorate and politicians – not lawyers – deal with this.


Clive Anderson

…or you could just listen to this brilliant program, chaired by my mate Josh:



I have been appalled by the number of members of the Bar, particularly senior members, who think they have the right to advise Parliament to ignore the democratically expressed opinion of the majority of the voters last Thursday. I should be very interested to know what the BSB makes of this as it seems to me there is an argument that it amounts to disreputable conduct sufficient to justify disciplinary hearings.


Not Amused

I am similarly appalled by the behaviour of several leading counsel.

However I would stop short of considering it a BSB matter. They have stepped in to the public arena – let them be castigated there. I shall remain in my ivory tower, where having taken the time to review their ‘arguments’, I can quietly conclude that they are very poor arguments indeed.



Pah, democracy. I give you “Boaty McBoatface”.



Ridiculous waste of 10 K give it to the starving. If he had faith in such a motion he would put-up the money himself. I am tired of the remain camp trying to find ways in which they can subvert the democratic vote, like spoiled children having a temper tantrum when they do not get their own way! Grow-up and act responsible! If the vote had been the other way and the leave camp were behaving this way then you would be the first to cry. People voted conservative, who had the promise of a referendum within their manifesto, and voted to leave the EU in that referendum. They did not vote to ‘advise’… clowns!

Article 50 is a right that has the force of law under s.2(1) of the ECA 1972.

Remain camp are the weakest, idiotic and shortsighted type of people I have ever encountered! No wonder you were happy to prostitute yourselves out to the undemocratic EU institutions, who were trying to introduce an EU superstate via the backdoor and who simply used half of our own money to buy support within the country and kept the other half.



Hello Nigel, you’ve been a bit quiet for the past week, glad to see you back with your usual stawman arguments



It’s worth recalling the words of Nigel Farage as he, prematurely, conceded defeat in the referendum late in the evening of 23rd June: “We may have lost this battle, but we will win the war”.

Doesn’t sound to me like he would have been happy to let things lie if the nation had voted remain.


David Lewis

Where exactly does the word “advisory” appear? The Act just says “a referendum shall be held”. It is non-binding, and everyone knows what that means. The government said it would implement the decision, and that’s what it’s doing. How come the wisdom of crowds applies to those backing this ridiculous legal action, but doesn’t apply to the majority voters in the referendum?



This is the bonehead who advised Miliband. Leftist, moron who would seek to overturn the will of the people. We beheaded for this sort of thing. This sort of vain idiocy really is giving the profession a bad name.


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