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UK High Court Rules that Parliament Must Vote on Whether the UK Can Start the Process of Leaving the EU

3 November 2016

Following the vote to leave the UK on 23 June earlier this year, the new UK prime minister announced that she would invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March 2017 to begin the negotiations for the UK to leave the EU. The UK would automatically leave the EU at the end of two years after Article 50 has been invoked, unless all remaining members of the EU agree to extend the period for negotiations.

The ability of the prime minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without a vote by parliament was challenged in the UK High Court. Earlier today the UK High Court ruled that the UK prime minister cannot invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without a vote by parliament.

The government has said that it will appeal against the High Court decision (the case will be fast tracked to the UK Supreme Court and be heard before the end of the year).

Even if the Supreme Court upholds today’s High Court ruling, it is thought unlikely that the Houses of Parliament would at present vote against any legislation enacting the result of the referendum. The most likely effect of the Supreme Court upholding today’s ruling is in changing the manner in which the UK exits the EU, with greater parliamentary scrutiny of the exit negotiations. The government has already announced that Article 50 will be invoked by the end of March 2017 as planned, despite the ruling of the High Court.

Please see here for a brief note on the possible implications on IP of the UK leaving the EU and here for details about the UPC and a comment on the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the UPC. Please get in touch with your usual J A Kemp contact for further information and advice.

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