UK court begins hearing Brexit legality case
The first of a number of legal challenges to Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) without parliamentary approval opened in the high court here Tuesday.
London: The first of a number of legal challenges to Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) without parliamentary approval opened in the high court here Tuesday.
At the opening in the Royal Courts of Justice, government lawyers led by Jason Coppel said the Theresa May-led government did not intend to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty initiating the UK's departure from the EU before the end of 2016.
Brian Leveson, one of the judges in charge of the directions hearing held to finalise administrative details, said the full trial will take place in October.
At least seven private actions arguing that only Parliament, and not the Prime Minister, has the authority to invoke Article 50 were identified to the court.
The defendant resisting the action will be David Davis, the new Brexit secretary appointed by May.
The court ordered that the lead case for the legal challenge should be the one brought by an investment manager, Gina Miller, who lives in London.
She told the Guardian, "We believe in a fair society. This is very much along the lines of my belief as a remain voter".
Another challenge has been brought by Deir Dos Santos, a British citizen who works as a hairdresser.
His claim argues, "The result of the referendum is not legally binding in the sense that it is advisory only and there is no obligation (on the government) to give effect to the referendum decision".
"However, the (previous) prime minister has stated on numerous occasions that it is his intention to give effect to the referendum decision and organise the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union," he said.
The government says its powers are based on the royal prerogative.
Lawyers representing Britons living in France are also expected to join the case.
A majority of MPs in the House of Commons are in favour of Britain remaining in the EU.
Moves to hand Parliament ultimate authority over Article 50 have been slammed as a means of blocking the Brexit vote.
The vote followed a referendum on June 23, when the British electorate voted 52 to 48 per cent in favour of the UK leaving the EU.
It has since triggered a domino effect on the world's financial markets and led to the resignation of David Cameron as prime minister.
Lawyers insist the legal challenge is concerned with the constitutional principle of parliamentary sovereignty rather than being engineered for a particular political outcome.