Brexit to be challenged in Irish Court & ECJ by UK barrister

The Supreme Court may have now retired to consider the Government’s appeal that it must consult Parliament, but there’s a new court action, this time in the Irish Courts started by UK barrister Jolyon Maugham.

Jolyon Maugham QC has started a crowdjustice campaign to take Brexit to the Irish courts in order to establish if Brexit can be halted, once Article 50 has been invoked.

The Government had planned to invoke Article 50 “before the end of March 2017” without consulting parliament using it’s “Royal Prerogative”. This decision was challenged in the High Court by a number of citizens including Gina Miller, Deir Dos Santos and a crowd-funded “The People’s Challenge”.

At the start of November, the High Court ruled that the government could not remove citizens rights without parliamentary approval. The government appealed this decision and the Supreme Court heard the governments appeal in this last week over four days. The Scottish & Northern Irish devolved governments have also been present in the process.

So why Ireland?

The European Courts of Justice(ECJ) are the supreme court within the European Union for all member countries, including the United Kingdom.

There is nothing to stop Gina Miller, The People’s Challenge or the Scottish/Northern Irish governments from appealing to the ECJ. However, Ms. Miller has said on record that she would not pursue an appeal to the ECJ. The issue is more political than legal; the idea of the ECJ deciding on something so intrinsically national as the decision to leave the EU.

By initiating a process in the Irish courts, Mr Maugham is hoping to expedite the process to the ECJ without those political considerations.

What exactly is the application?

There are two points.

Firstly, the application is seeking clarity on the question of if, once invoked, Article 50 can be stopped or revoked if the deal offered is not acceptable to the British people.

This was an issue raised by Tony Blair’s recent intervention in the Brexit debate :

If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn’t make it worth our while leaving, or a deal that is so serious in its implications that people may decide they don’t want to go, there’s got to be some way, either through parliament, through an election, possibly through a referendum, in which people express their view..

Tony Blair © BBC News 28th October 2016

Much of the court case in the High Court & Supreme Court has centered around the irrevocability of Article 50. To paraphrase Lord Pannick (never a wise thing to do), once fired, the bullet of Article 50 will eventually reach its objective. It cannot be halted.

Jolyon Maugham’s case will seek clarity (ultimately from the ECJ in Luxembourg) on this issue : Can Brexit be stopped, once started?

Secondly Mr Maugham is seeking clarity on whether Mrs May has already invoked Article 50, when in October, she informed the European Council that the UK would be leaving.

If that is the case, then the European Union has been in breach of the law in refusing to commence negotiations with the UK. Mr Maugham’s point is that if the UK has already notifed Article 50 (even inadvertently) then those affected by Brexit (Gina Miller etc and indeed all citizens who will have less rights) can claim to the ECJ that their rights as EU citizens are being removed unlawfully.

So how can you take part

Jolyon Maugham has set up a crowdjustice page trying to raise approximately £70,000 via crowdfunding to cover the initial costs of his appeal to the Irish Courts.

The link to the crowdjustice page is here. At the time of writing, it had raised £43,852 of the required £70,000 in its first morning.

Mr Maugham is an active user of Twitter, so you can follow his progress there too.


Should parliament control the terms on which we Brexit? Could we have a referendum on the final deal – or is the consequence of triggering article 50 that we will leave the EU whatever the terms?

Jolyon Maugham, QC © The Guardian 2016

Image: © Ms Jane Campbell /
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