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Court rules Saudi arms sales lawful


R (on the application of Campaign Against The Arms Trade) v The Secretary of State for International Trade and interveners

The Divisional Court (Lord Justice Burnett and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave) today dismissed a claim for judicial review by Campaign Against Arms Trade. This was the first substantial challenge to a decision concerning compliance with international humanitarian law taken under the UK’s arms export regime. The court considered a large volume of evidence, both open and closed. In a detailed and lengthy judgment, it held that, despite numerous reports from apparently authoritative sources suggesting repeated violations of IHL by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, it was rationally open to the Secretary of State to conclude that there was no “clear risk” that UK-supplied weapons would in future be used to commit serious violations of IHL.

A number of NGOs were given permission to intervene in support of the claimant.

CAAT has sought permission to appeal.

Martin Chamberlain QC was leading counsel for CAAT. Jemima Stratford QC represented Rights Watch (UK), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

A copy of the judgment is here. See reporting in The Guardian and the BBC.