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Three Knights Opinion

by Mick 0 Comments

Law firm Bindmans LLP, based in London UK, has published a legal Opinion “IN THE MATTER OF ARTICLE 50 OF THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION – Opinion“, which considers legal questions arising from the process of leaving the European Union.

This is also known as the Three Knights Opinion.

An article (17th february 2017) discussing the Opinion in more detail is available on Bindmans website at

https://www.bindmans.com/news/withdrawal-bill

The Three Knights Opinion was prepared by Sir David Edward, former judge of the European Court of Justice, Sir Francis Jacobs, that Court’s former Advocate General, and distinguished EU lawyer Sir Jeremy Lever (retired) together with two QCs Helen Mountfield and Gerry Facenna.

It explores the following questions

(i) What are the United Kingdom’s ‘constitutional requirements’ for a decision to withdraw from the European Union, within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (‘TEU’)(‘Article 50’)? Do they include a requirement for an Act of Parliament approving the terms of withdrawal at the end of the Article 50 process?

(ii) Does Article 50 permit the United Kingdom to decide to withdraw from the European Union, and notify its ‘intention’ to do so, subject to the fulfilment of constitutional requirements, such as an Act of Parliament approving the terms of withdrawal? If such constitutional requirements are not satisfied, would the notification lapse, or could it be withdrawn, before the end of the two-year period referred to in the third paragraph of Article 50?

(iii) What is the position if the United Kingdom and the European Union do not reach any agreement?

In summary, the Opinion suggests that after the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill) is passed through Parliament, the Prime Minister will be able to notify the EU of the UKs intention to leave the EU, but actual withdrawal from the EU has to be authorised by Parliament after negotiations have completed.

The compete, published document is available at

https://www.bindmans.com/uploads/files/documents/Final_Article_50_Opinion_10.2.17.pdf

Background

CrowdJustice is a crowd-funding platform to raise funds specifically for legal cases.

The CrowdJustice campaign Leaving the European Union: Should Parliament decide? organised by Jolyon Maugham QC raised £10,665 pledged by 406 people.

https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/should-parliament-decide/

It posed the question “Can the Prime Minister decide whether to leave the EU or does it require an act of Parliament?”. The funds were used to take advice from leading lawyers and to write to the government to determine its position.

The People’s Challenge to the Government on Art. 50: A Parliamentary Prerogative is a campaign, organised by Grahame Pigney, which raised more tham £170,000, pledged by 4918 people.

https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/parliament-should-decide/

It was created to challenge the ability of the Government being able to trigger Article 50 without requiring an Act of Parliament.

The People’s Challenge campaign is represented by a team from Bindmans LLP led by John Halford and their barristers are Helen Mounfield QC, Gerry Facenna QC, Tim Johnston and Jack Williams.

Following on, is the crowd-funding campaign The Second People’s Challenge: helping Parliament take control on Article 50, also organised by Grahame Pigney and which has raised more than £57,000 to date.

https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/parliament-take-control/

The Second People’s campaign is lobbying MPs and Peers to assist them in their decision making process during the passage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill) through Parliament and afterwards during subsequent negotiations with the EU.

The Three Knights Opinion detailed above was commissioned, published and circulated to all Peers using funds provided from these self styled “People’s Challenge” campaigns.

Other documents produced include:

A guide to EU citizenship rights at stake in the negotiations (which was circulated to all MPs).

https://www.bindmans.com/uploads/files/documents/UK_Parliament_EU_Citizenship_rights_booklet.pdf

An amendment briefing sent to all Peers

https://www.bindmans.com/uploads/files/documents/EU_Notification_Bill_-_Lords_Committee_Stage_briefing_on_the_parliamentary_approval_amendment.pdf

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