Britain’s ‘unwritten constitution’ and its highest court are put to the test as Article 50 hearing begins.

The UK’s 11-Justice Supreme Court will hear the Government open its appeal today against the ruling that it cannot use the Royal Prerogative to take the UK out of the EU by triggering Article 50. If the ruling stands, the process will be subject to parliamentary control and oversight and primary legislation will also need to cater for  the EU law rights and duties woven into the UK’s devolution arrangements.

Arriving at Court, the solicitor representing the crowd-funded People’s Challenge group, who are resisting the appeal alongside Gina Miller and Dier Dos Santos, said they were “confident” its Justices would apply the “clearest principle” of the unwritten constitution – “the empowerment of Parliament to protect citizens’ rights.”

Over 5000 people have supported the People’s Challenge group via CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform for public interest cases. The group’s members were formally recognised as ‘interested parties’ at a preliminary hearing last July, and participated to ensure ordinary people’s EU citizenship rights were fully taken into account by the judges dealing with the case.

They have made detailed written submissions arguing that Divisional Court’s ruling should stand complementing those of the Miller and Dos Santos teams and the intervening Scottish and Welsh Governments. The submissions are also backed by an Annex cataloguing the “fundamental and irreplaceable EU citizenship rights” at stake in the case.

The group consists of UK nationals Grahame and Rob Pigney who live in France, Paul Cartwright, a Gibraltarian national who runs Brex-IN, Christopher Formaggia who lives in Wales, Tahmid Chowdhury, a London student and Fergal McFerran, president of the NUS-USI based in Belfast.

Grahame Pigney said today:

“CrowdJustice has allowed us – ordinary UK Citizens and our supporters – to argue that our individual personal rights and benefits are so important that the timing and conditions of a Brexit should be decided by our democratically-elected Parliament rather than a self-appointed Government that wants to behave as if the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had never happened and the Bill of Rights was never written.”

John Halford of Bindmans LLP, the group’s solicitor, said:

“This case puts Britain’s unwritten constitution and its highest court to the test, but we are confident both will withstand it – the clearest principle of that constitution is the empowerment of Parliamentary sovereignty to protect citizens’ rights.”

Julia Salasky, CEO of CrowdJustice, said:

“Thousands of people have donated to the case, and therefore had the chance to take part in one of the most significant constitutional cases of our time.  Whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal, it’s a victory for the justice system that The People’s Challenge is being represented – and we’re delighted that it was made possible via CrowdJustice.”

The People’s Challenge is represented by John Halford of Bindmans LLP. Our team of barristers is headed by Helen Mountfield QC plus Gerry Facenna QCTim Johnston and Jack Williams with David Gregory joining the team to assist with the work for the Supreme Court hearing.

There are others who are also challenging the Government; Gina Miller, Dier Dos Santos, George Birnie with yet more named as part of the respective challenges plus others who have joined as interveners now the Government has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Each of the participating groups, whether Claimants, Interested Parties or Interveners, have their own independent legal teams and they participate as such in court. Obviously there is common ground between the various parties, so the legal teams co-operate to avoid unnecessary repetition.

The People’s Challenge focuses on the threat the Government’s use of the archaic Royal Prerogative poses to the Citizenship rights of UK Citizens whether they are living in the UK or Overseas.

The People’s Challenge raised the funds to challenge the Government through the Crowd Justice website. Nearly 5,000 individuals pledged £170,500 so that we could argue case to protect people’s citizenship rights in the Divisional Court. We have raised another £150,500 in pledges from some 4300 individuals so as to be able to defend the Divisional Court’s decision against the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

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