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Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

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Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union


30 November 2018

The petition at the instance of Andy Wightman MSP and others reached the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) earlier this week, following the unanimous decision of the Inner House to make a preliminary reference ([2018] CSIH 62).

The President of the CJEU had already decided that the reference would be heard under the court’s expedited procedure. It was then decided that the reference would be heard by a full court.

On 27th November 2018, various members of Axiom Advocates appeared before the 26 judges of the full court. Lord Keen of Elie QC, the Advocate General for Scotland, appeared on behalf of the UK Government. Morag Ross QC appeared on behalf of the Additional Parties. David Welsh, advocate, appeared as junior counsel on behalf of the Petitioners.

The reference will determine whether, as a matter of EU law, the notification given by the UK Government to the European Council under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union may be revoked and, if so, whether unilaterally or otherwise.  The Petitioners and Additional Parties argue that the notification can be withdrawn unilaterally. The UK Government argues that the CJEU ought not to answer the question at all.  Lawyers on behalf of the European Council and Commission argue that the revocation may only happen with the unanimous consent of all Member States acting through the European Council.

It has been announced that the CJEU Advocate General will issue a decision on Tuesday 4th December 2018. The formal decision of the full court will then follow thereafter.