As the media and others mull over the 68 page judgement handed down at the Belfast High court today I thought I would pull the key points from the summary for you all to digest and get an initial idea of the arguments presented to the court. The ruling on each is set out below:
The applicants raised five grounds of challenge to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (Democratic Consent Process) (EU) Regulations 2020 (“the 2020 Regulations”) but in effect the challenge was to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (“the Protocol”) and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union Withdrawal Act 2020 (“the Withdrawal Acts”) under which the 2020 Regulations were made. The grounds of challenge were under the following headings:
Ground 1: The Act of Union 1800;
Ground 2: Section 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;
Ground 3: Section 42 of the Northern Ireland Act – the 2020 Regulations on democratic consent ;
Ground 4: The Protocol and the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”);
Ground 5: The Protocol and EU Law.
Decisions of the court:
Ground 1: The court concluded that the Withdrawal Acts and, in particular section 7A of the 2018 Act, override Article VI of the Act of Union and insofar as there is a conflict they are to be preferred. Judicial review on this ground was refused.
Ground 2: The court concluded that section 1(1) of the 1998 Act has no impact on the legality of the changes effected by the Protocol and refused judicial review on this ground.
Ground 3: The court concluded that the 2020 Regulations are lawful and made intra vires the powers conferred by the 2018 Act.
Ground 4: The court concluded that there has been no breach of the applicants’ A3P1 rights. Judicial review on this ground was refused.
Ground 5: The court concluded that there has been no breach of EU law. Judicial review on this ground was refused.
Now comes the politics, all sorts of spin has been made. I recommend you to read the full judgement here.
Jay is a Derry native now living in south Antrim and working in Belfast. His writing spans Law, Economics and International relations.