In ten years there has been no shortage of actionby Raphael Hogarth / January 24, 2020 / Leave a comment
As the UK’s final court of appeal, the Supreme Court only hears disputes about points of law that are “of general public importance.” Some of the 600-plus cases the court has decided since it was established in 2009 might nevertheless strike non-lawyers as obscure: those about the interpretation of commercial contracts, the rights of landowners to use each other’s property, or the rules on who should pay whose costs in legal disputes. Challenges to the decisions of government, however, never fail to command public attention. On this front, there has been no shortage of entertainment for followers of their lordships and ladyships. Miller v The Prime Minister 2019
In August 2019 Boris Johnson advised the Queen to prorogue parliament for five weeks. Campaigner Gina Miller and SNP politician Joanna Cherry challenged the PM’s advice in court. They argued the prorogation was for an “improper purpose”: to avoid parliamentary scrutiny in the run-up to Brexit. Eleven Supreme Court judges unanimously ruled that there was no reasonable justification for such a long prorogation, which had “an extreme effect” on parliamentary democracy. The court declared the prorogation of no effect, and MPs returned to Westminster the next day.
UNISON v Lord Chancellor 2017
In 2013 justice secretary Chris Grayling introduced fees for anyone taking a case against their employer, arguing this would deter vexatious claims. Trade union Unison challenged the fees, and seven Supreme Court judges unanimously ruled that they were unlawful. The fees priced some people out of the tribunal, and so unjustifiably interfered with the constitutional right of access to the courts, which the court said was “inherent in the rule of law.”
Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU 2017
Theresa May wanted to kick off the Brexit process by serving notice on the European Council, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, of the UK’s intention to leave. The government argued it could do so without getting parliament’s permission, using ancient “royal prerogative” powers to manage international relations. A majority at the Supreme Court decided otherwise. Sending the Article 50 notice would lead to changes in the law and a loss of rights. Only parliament could authorise that.
Evans v Attorney General 2015
Prince Charles sent…