Next week, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a UK constitutional law expert. The Supreme Court (which truly is a UK court, not an England-and-Wales court) will hear the appeal on the various legal challenges related to the Brexit process. This is not of course an intellectual property matter, but please show forbearance as this Kat is enormously excited about it. It is probably the most important legal case in his lifetime, and could well be the case of the century. Many readers will doubtless already be aware of next week's hearing, but others may not be familiar with the arrangements.
As a brief background, the case is not about whether or not the UK will leave the EU. Rather, it is about who, within the UK constitutional framework, has the power to take the decision to leave the EU referred to in Article 50(1) of the Treaty on European Union, and make the notification under Article 50(2). Is it the Prime Minister acting alone, or is an Act of Parliament (and possibly the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly) required? The case therefore goes right to the heart of the constitutional settlement in the UK, including the rights of the devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the respective powers of the Westminster Parliament on the one hand and the Government, who have executive powers independent of Parliament under what is termed the Royal (or Crown) Prerogative, on the other.
The historic hearing is set for four days from 5 to 8 December and includes as advocates some of the finest legal minds in the country. For the first time, the Supreme Court will sit in its full current composition of 11 judges (handily avoiding both the possibility of a tied decision, and any suspicion that a different composition would have reached a different conclusion).
There is unprecedented and most welcome transparency about the case. Not only will the case be streamed live from the Supreme Court website (so, unless the technology breaks down, you will be able to view from the comfort of your office, your sofa, or a beach in the Seychelles), but the submissions of the parties have been made available online as well. These, together with a timetable for the hearing (illustrated below), can all be found on the Supreme Court website. So you can spend your weekend reading the written arguments, and procrastinate once again on your Christmas shopping, should you wish.
Technically, the case is a little complex, as it involves an appeal of the Brexit case that was heard in London by the Divisional Court of the Queen's bench, which decided against the Government (reported by this Kat here), a referral from Northern Ireland in respect of the case heard in Belfast that decided the points in the Government's favour, various interveners and interested parties either from the original cases, or who were given permission by the Supreme Court to intervene, including both the Scottish and the Welsh Governments. The hearing will be crammed with QCs from across the country, and the complexity of the background of the cases and the large number of parties result in a 4-day marathon.
This Kat thinks it will be fun, and hopes he is not proved wrong. He is far too cautious to predict the outcome, which is expected to be known in January.