Latest Brexit challenge gets date in High Court’s diary

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By Polly Botsford on

BUT the case has already been rejected once

A crowdfunded judicial review case will be heard for the second time next month, adding to an ever-longer list of Brexit-related challenges in the national and EU courts.

The case of Susan Wilson & Ors v The Prime Minister, to be heard on 7 December, focuses on the official Vote Leave campaign and whether breaches of election rules relating to the campaign’s funding means the referendum is null and void. The case has already been refused by the High Court earlier this year but campaigners are having another go.

The claimants, led by one Sue Wilson, a Spain-based British retiree, argue that since the summer when the UK’s Electoral Commission found that Vote Leave had exceeded its spending limit, the PM should have acted on that information in relation to Brexit.

The Wilson case is the latest law-based attempt to stop Brexit from going ahead as the courts witness a plethora of judicial review applications not only on the referendum itself but also on the implications of Brexit.

Everyone remembers the Supreme Court’s Miller case from December 2016 when the top court found that a parliamentary vote was needed to trigger Article 50.

Many other applications are rumbling through the courts, including a cross-party group of Scottish MPs who have brought a petition on whether or not the UK referendum can be unilaterally revoked. Supported by the Good Law Project, this case has managed to secure itself a hearing at the European Court of Justice (CJEU) later this month, and has been tipped as “the case that could decide the fate of the nation” by Jolyon Maugham QC, founder of the Good Law Project.

Other cases have been not quite so successful. For instance, a case brought by one Elizabeth Webster argued that the UK parliament had not been properly consulted about leaving the EU. Lord Justice Gross declared the case “hopeless” and “totally without merit”. He added: “[it is] difficult to conceive of a challenge more detrimental to the conduct of a major issue of national and international importance, whatever political view is taken of the merits or demerits of Brexit”. Ouch.

As ever in these Brexit cases, sharp legal minds are keen to get involved. The claimants in the Wilson case have a counsel team of five (all working on a conditional fee arrangement) including two QCs, Patrick Green QC of Henderson Chambers, Jessica Simor QC of Matrix, and an Oxford Law professor, Pavlos Eleftheriadis. Full details of their arguments can be read on the Crowdjustice website.

Legal Twitterati member Adam Wagner from Doughty Street Chambers is also on the advice team. He told Legal Cheek that the Wilson claim is not only about Brexit but is highlighting the fact that election campaigns which break the rules are bad for democracy:

“This is not only a Brexit case, it is about the integrity of the democratic process,” he said

As Brexit continues to swamp the political agenda, it looks as if it is swamping the court lists too.

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