Article 50 Revocation – The Three Knights Opinion in Luxembourg

On Tuesday (27th November) a group of Parliamentarians led by Andy Wightman MSP put their case to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling that Article 50 is unilaterally revocable.

As well as Andy Wightman & otrs, Chris Leslie MP and Tom Brake MP were represented as Interested Parties. The Legal Team representing them consists of Jennifer Jack of Harper Macleod LLP and John Halford of Bindmans LLP. They instructed a top team of Counsel with expertise in Public and EU Law: Gerry Facenna QC and Anneli Howard, both from Monckton Chambers, Morag Ross QC of Axiom Advocates and Stephen Donnelly of Arnot Manderson Advocates/ One Essex Court.

John Halford led the legal team for The People’s Challenge through our successful challenge to the Government on their proposal to use Royal Prerogative to trigger the Article 50 notification through the production of the Three Knights Opinion, the work on the Legal Milestones on our way to Brexit and our Millions in the Margins work.

Gerry Facenna QC was one of our counsel for our Article 50 challenge, produced the Three Knights Opinion we commissioned with the Three Knights and Helen Mountfield QC and led on producing the Millions in the Margins advice we commissioned.

The written submission made by Chris Leslie MP and Tom Brake MP used the Three Knights Opinion as one of its prime references and Gerry Facenna QC made extensive reference to the opinions and arguments in the Three Knights Opinion when making the oral submissions to the court.

The CJEU’s Advocate General will deliver his opinion on Tuesday 4th December and the CJEU will deliver its conclusions after that, although that may not be until after the meaningful vote on 11th December.

Note 1. Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has one judge from each Member State, assisted by eleven advocates general whose role is to consider the written and oral submissions to the court in every case that raises a new point of law, and deliver an impartial opinion to the court on the legal solution. Although Advocates General are full members of the court, they do not take part in the court‘s deliberations, and the Advocate General’s opinion is not binding on the court. Although the court reaches the same solution as the Advocate General more often than not, it cannot usually be stated that the advocate general’s opinion has been ‘followed’ in any given case, because the court may have reached the same conclusion via different legal reasoning. The role of Advocate General is created by Article 19(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 253 and 254 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Note 2. The Three Knights Opinion.

The Three Knights Opinion was commissioned by The Peoples Challenge after successfully resisting the Government’s attempt to use Royal Prerogative to trigger the Article 50 notification.

The Opinion’s authors are Sir David Edward KCMG PC QC, Sir Francis Jacobs KCMG PC QC, Sir Jeremy Lever KCMG QC (retired) and the QCs that acted for the People’s Challenge Group in R (Miller) vs SSExEU, Helen Mountfield QC and Gerry Facenna QC.

Sir David Edward QC practised at the Bar in Scotland prior to his appointment as the United Kingdom’s Judge at the European Court of First Instance from 1989-1992 and subsequently Judge of the European Court of Justice from 1992 until 2004. In 2004 he returned to become a part-time judge of the Court of Session in Scotland. He is a Privy Councillor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford.

Sir Francis Jacobs QC served as the United Kingdom’s Advocate General at the European Court of Justice from 1988 to 2006, having previously combined an academic career as Professor of European Law at the University of London with practice at the Bar. He is the President of the Centre of European Law at King’s College London and a visiting professor at the College of Europe. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in December 2005 and continues to practice at the Bar.

Sir Jeremy Lever QC is one of the most senior and respected figures in EU and competition law. During his more than fifty years at the Bar he acted in many of the leading cases in the fields of European law, competition law, and regulatory public law, including on behalf of the UK Government, the European Commission and the European Parliament. He is a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Dean of All Souls College, Oxford and in 2003 was knighted for services to European Law.

Note 3. Supreme Court decision in R (Miller) vs SSExEU

The People’s Challenge played a significant part in the arguments in the Divisional and Supreme Courts which resulted in the ruling that the Government was not allowed to trigger the Article 50 notification using Royal Prerogative and it required primary legislation by Parliament because of the implications for UK citizen’s fundamental rights.


The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

This entry was posted in Brexit and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.