The Article 50 Challenge Responds

12th April 2018

A couple of days ago, I set out on here why I believed the “Article 50 challenge” had no merit.

To their credit, the campaign responded politely and constructively, and they have now issued a statement.

Read the statement carefully – as I do not want to misrepresent their position.

I do not think the statement has much force.

In particular, my “delay” point is not properly addressed, and my point about futility – that even if they “win” the problem can be quickly cured – is reluctantly accepted.

And in respect of the central issue, the statement does not deal with my contention that the “decision” was the entirety of the process (primary referendum legislation, vote, litigation to supreme court, further primary litigation, prime ministerial discretion) than any particular element.

But read for yourself their statement, and make your own mind up.

I must add it is a pity that the campaign is not publishing its legal claim so that we can see for ourselves the arguments they putting before the court.  I cannot think of a good reason for this.

The government’s lawyers will know the strengths and weaknesses of the claim – the people who will not know are those who are being invited to support the campaign.


Below in the comments Mark Hardy provides a link to what appears to be the first instance decision for the application in this case.  It is a fairly brutal refusal from an experienced public law judge.  The next stage is an oral hearing to renew the application.  I can see that going the same way.

The link is also to what seems to be the government’s case.

I cannot verify whether these are genuine but I have no reason to believe they are not.


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16 thoughts on “The Article 50 Challenge Responds”

  1. David.

    The Government’s response and the Judgment including reasons are in the public domain. It is only the Claim that is not. They were provided to me personally by the Government Legal Department and have been placed in open court before a Judge by me personally. A50 people were present in Court when this was done.
    Your readers would better appreciate your comment if you referred to the contents of those documents
    Readers can access the papers through the Killbrexitnow blogspot or directly at

    The problem for the A50 challenge is that funders are entitled to know where their money is being spent and how much is left over to be returned to CrowdJusitce for giving to other causes or charity in accordance with their terms and conditions.

    1. Thank you this, Mark.

      If these are what you say they are (I have no reason to doubt you, but I have not verified them myself) then the court’s refusal on the papers (from an experienced public law judge) is rather brutal.

      The oral hearing for renewal of the application may well go the same way.

  2. Interesting as always. Although there may be an ‘easy’ statutory remedy that could be done now and the challenge would disappear. One does wonder why so much political effort went in to rejecting any and all amendments to the Bill including those reasoned ones which the Lords saw fit to pass back to the other place. Perhaps government is not so confident now they have needlessly thrown away their majority.

    1. Absent of a concerted political challenge by parliamentarians there seems little need for a statutory remedy.

      Indeed given what the Three Knight’s opinion says Parliament isn’t able to make a definitive decision until it is clear what the consequences of the UK leaving the EU are.

      1. David and others assert automatic operation of EU law would see exit after the deadline. This would be the case if nothing more were to happen on the political plane. I cannot envisage how political failure could have some drastic consequences so I sincerely hope Three Knights is correct on that point.

  3. David,

    Mark Hardy makes reference to my “Kill Brexit Now” blog.

    The Article 50 Challenge documents are available via CO/5929/2017 – The Government response to the “Article 50 Challenge”.

    The Article 50 Challenge has the Court reference CO/5929/2017.

    In addition to the documents relating to the Article 50 Challenge I have also made publicly available on the blog documents relating to CO/5012/2017 and CO/5050/2017.

    See the relevant posts on the Kill Brexit Now blog.

    In each case permission for Judicial Review was refused.

    1. Dr Watt,

      Have you had a response from the Court following your request for copy documents of the Claimant’s Statement of Facts and Grounds and Grounds for Renewal (CO/5929/2017)?

      I am about to make the same request.

      1. Phil

        My request was lodged on 28 Jan. The Court is so backlogged it is unable to confirm when the matter will be dealt with.

        I have asked A50 time and again for a copy but they always refuse. Why? They never say.

        I will publicly post the documents when they are received.

        1. Thank you Mark. It may be that a request will need to be made in person then when the documents ought to be made available within 48 hours.

          Like you, I see no good reason for A50 challenge not to publish their Claim, Statement of Facts and Grounds, and Grounds for Renewal (and such other relevant pleadings). In my view the lack of transparency is troubling, particularly when people are being asked to donate.

  4. All well and good – but it is still pretty odd that there is no bit of paper signed by someone with due authority, saying that the UK has decided to leave. You get that if you apply for planning permission for a loft extension…

  5. It’s a familiar sequence, I’ve seen various iterations of it:

    They seek donations to advance a cause through the Courts. To follow, several emails lauding the cause and to feedback on and ‘warm up’ past donors. All is well.

    Maybe one email telling us the result… then, invariably… We’re hit with another request!

    Donations… Feedback… And just when we think they’re done… Here comes another!

    Rinse and repeat.

    As I said, this cyclical. I can’t support a new cause (or the same cause) every few months. My initial donation was all I could afford. I’m not giving any more.

  6. David

    it would be highly useful to set out a timeplan of what actually will happen between now and March….


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