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Stuart Wheeler obtains expedited judgment on legality of surrendering powers to EU


R (Wheeler) v. Prime Minister & Home Secretary [2014] EWHC 3815 (Admin)

A 3-judge Administrative Court has handed down judgment in an unusually expedited application for judicial review brought by Stuart Wheeler (the former Treasurer of UKIP), which raises significant constitutional issues.

The claim, issued on Tuesday, was listed for a rolled-up hearing on Friday of the same week. The judgment was delivered that same day by a court comprising Leveson LJ, Jay J and Lewis J, who observed that “where the circumstances are exceptional ... and where truly in the public interest, it should not be thought that the courts cannot proceed at speed”.

The court rules for the first time on the effect of constitutionally unusual provisions in the European Union Act 2011 which purport to bind future UK Parliaments by requiring both an Act of the UK Parliament and a referendum before the UK confers certain further powers on the EU. The unanimous judgment concludes that a referendum would not be required in this particular case. A decision by the UK to support a European Public Prosecutor’s Office would require a referendum; the challenged decision of the UK to participate in a European Arrest Warrant scheme which such a Prosecutor’s Office might one day use to arrest persons in the UK was insufficient to require a referendum.

The court also considers the extent to which the courts may enforce statements given by Ministers that they will not act without a vote in Parliament. The enforcement by the courts of the expectation of such a vote would “inevitably, involve a breach of Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689 and also the law of Parliamentary privilege”. The court considered that “there would inevitably be a breach ... as ... the courts would be called upon to determine whether particular votes held in the House of Commons were, or were not, sufficient to satisfy the alleged expectation.

The judgment is here.

The BBC news report can be found here.

Richard Gordon QC and Gerard Rothschild appeared for Mr Wheeler, instructed by Payne Hicks Beach.