We be­lieve Par­lia­ment can be un­sus­pended, say court pe­ti­tion­ers

The Scotsman - - PARLIAMENT SHUTDOWN - By GINA DAVID­SON

The UK would be in “un­prece­dented ter­ri­tory” if the Court of Ses­sion rules that the de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment breaks the law, ac­cord­ing to law ex­perts.

A le­gal hear­ing on whether the Prime Min­is­ter can legally sus­pend Par­lia­ment to force through a no-deal Brexit was due to be held on 6 Septem­ber, but yes­ter­day the pe­ti­tion­ers raised an in­terim in­ter­dict in the Court to over­turn the sus­pen­sion.

It is pos­si­ble that the court will hear the pe­ti­tion to sus­pend the pro­ro­ga­tion of Par­lia­ment today, although The Scots­man un­der­stands the UK Government is at­tempt­ing to push the hear­ing to Fri­day.

The pe­ti­tion has been lodged by a cross-party group of mem­ber­soft­he­house­of­com­mons and the House of Lords, from Scot­land, Wales and Eng­land, sup­ported by the Good Law Project. While it will be heard in a Scot­tish court, an­tibrex­it­cam­paign­erginamill­er is con­sid­er­ing lodg­ing a sim­i­lar pe­ti­tion in Eng­land.

Jo Maugham QC, of the GLP, said they had lodged the in­ter­dict be­cause Mr John­son’s ac­tions were a “con­sti­tu­tional out­rage”. He said: “We be­lieve Par­lia­ment can be un­sus­pended and will be ask­ing the Court of Ses­sion to do ex­actly that ei­ther to­mor­row or on Fri­day.”

Jim Cor­mack, QC, part­ner at law firm Pin­sent Ma­sons, said the Queen ap­prov­ing the Government’s re­quest to sus­pend Par­lia­ment “means the pe­ti­tion­ers in the Scot­tish ju­di­cial re­view now face the ex­act sit­u­a­tion they set out to pre­vent” but the “fun­da­men­tal ba­sis of their chal­lenge re­mains to be de­cided by the court. This is on the ba­sis that the courts have the power to in­ter­vene and halt the sus­pen­sion of Par­lia­ment.”

Nick Mck­er­rell, a lec­turer in law at Glas­gow Cale­do­nian Univer­sity, said the le­gal ac­tion was “un­usual” be­cause it cen­tres on the sug­ges­tion that the de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment breaches the rule of law and would “in­ter­vene in a po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion”.

He said that, while ju­di­cial re­view was a stan­dard le­gal process, the “dif­fer­ence here is that those rais­ing the case ar­gue the de­ci­sion fun­da­men­tally breaches the rule of law – which is seen as cen­tral to the UK con­sti­tu­tion”.

Mr Mck­er­rell said it would be a “big ask” for the court to say the Queen, act­ing on the ad­vice of the PM, is ig­nor­ing the UK con­sti­tu­tion but added: “That would not stop the court rul­ing on it. We re­ally would be in un­prece­dented ter­ri­tory there if that hap­pened.”

0 Jo Maugham QC: Plea to the Court of Ses­sion

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