Breaking news: Northern Ireland High Court rejects challenge to Brexit

Today in the Northern Ireland Nisi Prius Court, Mr Justice Maguire handed down judgment in McCord, Re Judicial Review [2016] NIQB 85, conjoined applications for judicial review by Mr Raymond McCord and a cross-party group of politicians led by Steven Agnew MLA. The hearings took place on 4-5 October and part of the proceedings was stayed because the two cases overlap with the judicial review proceedings at the High Court in London. Maguire J rejected both challenges to Brexit. There is a summary of the judgment hereThere were various arguments deployed:

  1. that under Northern Ireland law, the Royal Prerogative could not be used to trigger Article 50 because it had been displaced by the Northern Ireland Act 1998;
  2. that Stormont should be asked to pass a legislative consent motion before Article 50 could be triggered;
  3. that there were a variety of public law restraints on any exercise of prerogative power, including issues about the requirement to take all relevant considerations into account and not to give excessive weight to the referendum result.
  4. that the Northern Ireland Office had breached its equality scheme under s 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Public Sector Equality Duty in s 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and general principles of EU law; and
  5. that Article 50 TEU could not be triggered without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland because the Good Friday Agreement had created a substantive legitimate expectation that there would be no change in the constitutional status of the Province without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

In rejecting those arguments, Maguire J emphasised that, in relation to point about the exercise of the Prerogative, his judgment was based on the law specific to Northern Ireland and was without prejudice to the similar case currently pending before the High Court in London. The Court was prepared to grant leave to appeal in respect of Issues 1, 2, 3 and 4, but not in respect of Issue 5.

[Updated 15.00 28 October with a link to the full judgment.]

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Breaking news: Northern Ireland High Court rejects challenge to Brexit" in Law & Religion UK, 28 October 2016,

2 thoughts on “Breaking news: Northern Ireland High Court rejects challenge to Brexit

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