Parliament must vote on Brexit

24 Jan 2017

Supreme Court rules that Article 50 cannot be triggered without an Act of Parliament

In one of the most politically charged cases in decades, the U.K’s Supreme Court today (24 January 2017) ruled that the UK Government needs the approval of Parliament to trigger Brexit.

Charles Bankes, partner and co-chair of the Brexit taskforce at international law firm, Simmons & Simmons says:

“This decision is likely to prove to be a speedbump on the road to Brexit rather than a road closure. It is possible that debate in the House of Lords could cause the Government to miss their self-imposed deadline of the end of March to trigger Article 50, but in all likelihood if that happens they will not miss it by much.

“Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that the Labour Party will back a Government Bill to trigger Article 50; the Supreme Court decision may have little impact upon the process. But nothing is certain when Brexit is concerned.

“A number of Labour MPs have indicated that they will vote against any Bill and others may table amendments, which will derail Theresa May’s timetable.

“The judgment of the Supreme Court was a careful and balanced one demonstrating the Supreme Court was mindful of its constitutional role.

“There remain, however, some outstanding questions. The litigation preceded on the basis that Article 50 was irrevocable, however this is yet to be finally settled and is subject to litigation in the Republic of Ireland.


Mark Curtis, partner and co-chair of the Brexit taskforce at international law firm, Simmons & Simmons says:

“As for the long-term picture for business interests in the UK, it will still be many months before we see any increase in clarity.

“With this judgment it appears that the legal issues at a constitutional law level have been settled. Parliament will have a vote at both the stage of triggering article 50 and approving the final agreement with the EU. The process of obtaining those approvals is a political one.

“Legal uncertainty as to the Brexit process has been removed. Considerable political uncertainty of course remains as to the outcome as the negotiations with the EU unfold.


Ed Crosse, partner and member of the Brexit taskforce at international law firm, Simmons & Simmons says:

"The judgment in the Miller litigation is an historic statement by the Court as to the relationship between the Government and Parliament. The Court was asked to determine between the exercise of the Royal prerogative and the sovereignty of Parliament in relation to individual rights. In the future we will look back at this judgment as of major constitutional importance.

"The process in front of the Court is of prime importance: that a client should be able to call upon the judiciary to examine Government conduct without fear or intimidation is a cornerstone of our democracy. That judges can work and give judgment without intimidation is the foundation of an open democratic civil society.

"Both have come under scrutiny in this case and as lawyers we celebrate that the process has succeeded in a proper public examination of the issues and a conclusion that is free of fear or favour.