PRESS RELEASE RE JR83 BREXIT CHALLENGE
ISSUED Monday 13th December 2021
ISSUED BY HARTE COYLE COLLINS, SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES, BELFAST
Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors & Advocates have petitioned the Supreme Court in London on behalf of an anonymous client for a declaration that the decision of the Prime Minister to sign the Withdrawal Agreement and Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol on 24th January 2020 was made for improper purposes and was an act done in bad faith. The Applicant has been granted anonymity by the High Court in Belfast to pursue this action and is known as JR83. This is the second challenge in relation to Brexit related issues this Applicant has taken.
The UK Government had previously asserted that they could exercise the prerogative power to ensure the UK’s departure from the EU without the need to obtain Parliamentary approval in advance. That position was rejected in Miller (No. 1)  AC 61 in which the UK Supreme Court found that “ministers require the authority of primary legislation before they can take that course.” (See Miller (1) at ). The UK Parliament subsequently provided authority for the UK to leave the EU because of the Withdrawal Agreement by passing the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. Based on the logic of Miller (1) the UK Government was therefore permitted to leave the EU on the basis that they implemented the will of Parliament, by agreeing to and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol. The Applicant JR83 will now argue, if the petition to the Supreme Court is accepted, that the Government signed that Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol without any intention of adhering to it or being bound by it, but rather to ensure that the UK left the EU as soon as possible.
JR83 argues that this conclusion finds support in publicly available evidence, including: the Prime Minister’s statements at the time the Withdrawal Agreement was reached which were inconsistent with the effect it would have in practice if implemented; the Prime Minister’s actions and explanations in relation to the subsequent introduction of the UK Internal Markets Bill; the Prime Minister’s statements explaining why he signed the Withdrawal Agreement, suggesting this was merely to ensure the UK left the EU on any terms rather than to implement the Withdrawal Agreement; public comments made by the Prime Minister’s key advisor Dominic Cummings since leaving his position in Downing Street to the effect that any Withdrawal Agreement could subsequently be ignored; recent comments of the Prime Minister’s political allies to the effect that this was always what the Prime Minister had intended to do; and reports written by a respected journalist two weeks after the UK’s exit from the EU that the Prime Minister had replaced his Attorney General essentially because he did not wish to be bound by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors & Advocates, Belfast speaking on behalf of the Applicant JR83 said.
“The publicly available evidence which my client relies upon in making the allegation of bad faith on the part of the Prime Minister was identified in pre-action correspondence which went to the Prime Minister on the 19th of September 2020. The Prime Minister did not address this evidence in his response to us. My client suggests that there is no good answer to it. This supports a contention that the Prime Minister may have signed the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol without ever intending he should be bound by it. If that allegation is correct then his actions were unlawful, insofar as he has frustrated the intention of Parliament.
If that allegation is correct, it also follows that the Prime Minister’s decision to sign that Agreement amounted to an exercise of the prerogative for improper purposes, or which was otherwise in bad faith. Our client’s view is that it is appropriate for a Court to make a declaration to this effect, for a variety of reasons, including that this is the most appropriate way to vindicate the rule of law and to ensure that the Prime Minister does not avoid the legal consequences flowing from the alleged illegality of his actions.”
The petition to the Supreme Court was lodged on behalf of JR83 on 19th November 2021. A decision is awaited in the New Year on whether the Supreme Court will accept the petition and list the case for a full hearing.
Harte Coyle Collins
Solicitors & Advocates
9-15 Queen Street