Responsibility for triggering Article 50 handed to Parliament

On 3rd November 2016, The Royal Courts of Justice determined that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have powers under the royal prerogative to inform Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union without consulting the House of Commons.

At the centre of the issue is Article 50 of the treaty of the European Union, which states that any member state may leave ‘in accordance with its own constitutional requirements’. The legal dispute sought to clarify the UK’s constitutional requirements in terms of the stage at which Article 50 can be triggered.

Under the ruling, which many are describing as the most important ruling in constitutional law this century, Parliament is given the authority to make the decision about whether the UK should leave the European Union. Whether MPs will disregard the results of the referendum remains to be seen.

The Prime Minister has an option to appeal to the Supreme Court. Once the legal dispute is over, and the fate of the UK’s membership of the European Union is decided, will Parliament explore a new route towards a more coherent, written constitution in the UK?

To access the judgment, please click here.


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