Supreme Court’s Sturgeon Blow, Scottish Government Laws Ruled Unlawful

The Supreme Court’s just dealt a surprise blow to the Scottish government, siding with the UK government and determining parts of two Sturgeon bills to be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish parliament. The UK government’s law officers had initiated legal proceedings over concerns that the two bills were not about their policy objectives, and instead would place legal obligations on UK government ministers in reserved areas, affecting the government’s ability to make laws for Scotland. ‘Whoops’ doesn’t quite cover it. 

Alister Jack has hailed the Supreme Court’s decision. In a wider context, the ruling proves the Supreme Court is still keen on ensuring the Scottish government sticks to the boundaries of its legal competence – a ruling that should dissuade Sturgeon from thoughts about holding an illegal second referendum without Boris’s approval. Och aye the oh no…

mdi-timer 6 October 2021 @ 14:00 6 Oct 2021 @ 14:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Supreme Court President Blasts Campaigners Litigating Political Decisions

UK Supreme Court President Lord Reed has pushed back on campaign groups challenging legislation in the courts – typically by exploiting the loose definition of ‘differential treatment‘ – as a last-ditch effort to derail policies they don’t like. What a coincidence. Guido wonders which learned ears will been listening…

Writing in the Supreme Court’s judgement on the ‘two child limit’ legislation (which ‘restricts payment of amounts of subsistence benefit for children to the first two children in a family‘), Reed said:

“In practice, challenges to legislation on the ground of discrimination have become increasingly common in the United Kingdom. They are usually brought by campaigning organisations which lobbied unsuccessfully against the measure when it was being considered in Parliament, and then act as solicitors for persons affected by the legislation, or otherwise support legal challenges brought in their names, as a means of continuing their campaign.”

The legislature legislates, not the judiciary. Of course, some leftie lawyers are already squawking about how this is a “worrying” development because Reed has refused to drag a domestic court into what is ultimately a political question over the jurisdiction of the ECHR. Lawyers need to learn you can’t litigate every political decision you disagree with, try to win an election, like that lawyer Keir Starmer is trying… 

 

 

mdi-timer 9 July 2021 @ 16:44 9 Jul 2021 @ 16:44 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Gina Miller’s Accidental Friendly Fire

Yesterday morning, the government published its response to the review into judicial review. In response, nuisance-maker-in-chief Gina Miller expressed “concern” at the Lord Chancellor’s description of Courts as “the servants of Parliament”.

“I am concerned, however, by the way in which the Lord Chancellor has chosen to interpret it, particularly his description of the Courts as ‘servants of Parliament'”

This is a conventional orthodox legal view. What Gina doesn’t appear to realise is Buckland was, in fact, quoting the submission of one Baroness Hale – the president of the Supreme Court who sided with Gina twice against the government (once around triggering Article 50, and again during the 2019 prorogation). Hale wrote:

“In the vast majority of cases, judicial review is the servant of Parliament. It is there to ensure that public authorities at all levels act in accordance with the law which Parliament has laid down. In only a very few cases does it operate to ensure that public authorities act in accordance with the common law. If Parliament does not like what a court has decided, it can change the law.”

Gina’s taking aim at the wrong target this time….

mdi-timer 19 March 2021 @ 16:31 19 Mar 2021 @ 16:31 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
New Human Rights Act Review Chief Calls for End to Judicial Controversy

Last week the government moved once again to sort out Britain’s turgidly Blairite, messy constitution by appointing a new chair of its review into the Human Rights Act and review of the role of judges to investigate whether they’ve become too political in recent years. Chosen to head the committee is former judge Sir Peter Gross, who, on the same day of his appointment, gave a speech to Swansea university on the subject of “The Judiciary Today – The Least Dangerous Branch”. Some of his comments are illuminating…

Perhaps most eye-catching is his belief that judges should avoid institutional overreach, and his cutting jibes that judges all the way up to the Supreme Court should maintain the traditional virtue of “Judicial reserve and restraint”. At one point specifically referencing Gina Miller’s second Supreme Court, Sir Peter argues judges should not “court public controversy”:

“And judges ought not to be seen as “celebrities””

A pointed criticism of Baroness Hale and her spider broach?

While these comments might excite Tory ranks who want to see the courts reined in, later in his speech Sir Peter said the courts will have a “major role” to play “in the post-Pandemic and post-Brexit times ahead.” Gina Miller’s ears will be pricked…

Guido’s combed through the speech and gives you Sir Peter’s main points below:

Read More

mdi-timer 14 December 2020 @ 16:25 14 Dec 2020 @ 16:25 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris on Court Reform

Guido has been keenly scooping stories on the Government’s constitutional plans, including an exclusive on the Tories’ plans to propose constitutional reforms in their manifesto, and most recently Boris’s plan to scrap the boundary review’s reduction of seats from 650 to 600. You’re either in front of Guido, or you’re behind…

PMQs hinted at confirmation of Guido’s last story about the Government’s planned court reforms; with Boris saying he will ensure the courts can no longer be abused to “conduct politics by another means, or to create needless delays”. Jolyon and Gina must be having panic attacks…

mdi-timer 15 January 2020 @ 12:35 15 Jan 2020 @ 12:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tories Prepare for Court and Boundary Reform

Following Guido being the first to reveal the Tories’ manifesto Supreme Court reform plans, while the manifesto ended up being as vague as expected (merely proposing a need to “look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts”), Guido can now reveal one specific being discussed is seeing a pivot in the remit of the Supreme Court. The change would turn the court away from focussing on “cases of the greatest public and constitutional importance” and instead returning to the Law Lords’ original predominant diet of the 80s and 90s, of the most complex cases adjudicating tax and commercial cases. It’s dry but important, stick with us…

The Tories’ victory in West Bromwich West is appropriately symbolic of their plans to deal with the courts. The 1948 Wednesbury Principle – named after a town in the constituency – created the ‘Wednesbury unreasonableness’ test, whereby the courts can only intervene to correct a move if it was:

“So outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.”

Senior Tories believe courts’ judicial reviews “have strayed so far from what was originally intended”, and if the Wednesbury Principle applied at the time, it would have resulted in Boris’s prorogation being deemed lawful.

In other constitutional rumours, Guido hears the Government is erring towards pushing boundary reforms through Parliament – which is an absolute legislative priority for them – without reducing the number of constituencies to 600, in order to avoid Tory MP rebellions. One senior Tory semi-jokingly claims the reduction is now not needed as MPs take on additional casework that used to be handled by MEPs…

Interestingly, findings now seem to show following the realignment of the parties in the General Election, the boundary review now benefits the Tories far less than it would have in 2015 or 2017. The Minister responsible for the review – when at one post-election event hosted by the Mayite ‘Onwards’ Think Tank – ended up having to ask them for their analysis on which parties would now stand to benefit…

mdi-timer 2 January 2020 @ 16:15 2 Jan 2020 @ 16:15 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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