High Court Article 50 case - key extracts from the court's judgment

Posted On: 
3rd November 2016

The High Court has ruled that Parliament must have a say on triggering Article 50 - read key extracts from the court's judgment here.

Claimant Gina Miller outside the High Court today


"The Government accepts that neither the EU Referendum Act 2015 nor any other Act of Parliament confers on it statutory authority (as distinct from prerogative powers) to give notice under Article 50.

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“Once notice is given under Article 50, some rights under EU law as incorporated into domestic law by the 1972 European Communities Act would inevitably be lost once the Article 50 withdrawal process is completed.


“It has been established for hundreds of years that the Crown – ie the Government of the day – cannot by exercise of prerogative powers override legislation enacted by Parliament.

“Normally the conduct of international relations and the making and unmaking of treaties are taken to be matters falling within the scope of the Crown’ prerogative powers. That general rule exists precisely because the exercise of such prerogative powers has no effect on domestic law.

“In the present case, however, the Government accepts, and indeed positively contends, that if notice is given under Article 50 it will inevitably have the effect of changing domestic law. Those elements of EU law which Parliament has made part of domestic law by enactment of the 1972 Act will in due course cease to have effect.


“The central contention of the Government…is that Parliament must be taken to have intended when it enacted the 1972 Act that the Crown would retain its prerogative power to effect a withdrawal from the Community Treaties (now the EU Treaties), and thereby intended that the Corwn should have the power to choose whether EU law should continue to have effect in the domestic law of the UK or not.

“The Court does not accept the argument put forward by the Government. There is nothing in the text of the 1972 Act to support it. In the judgment of the Court the argument is contrary both to the language used by Parliament in the 1972 Act and to the fundamental constitutional principles of the sovereignty of Parliament and the absence of any entitlement on the part of the Crown to change domestic law by the exercise of its prerogative powers.

“The Government does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.”