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Profession responds to Supreme Court ruling against Boris

24 September 2019

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The Law Society has stressed the judiciary’s role in defending democracy today, following the Supreme Court’s ruling that prorogation of parliament was invalid.

Law Society president Simon Davis said: “Whatever you think of the decision, today’s Supreme Court ruling is a vital expression of the checks and balances that exist in our democracy”.

In a unanimous verdict of all 11 justices, the Supreme Court ruled earlier today that the prime minister’s decision to advise the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful.

“Our court system and our judges are there so the law laid down by parliament can be interpreted. In a mature democracy it is crucial that the independence of this process is maintained”, Davis said. “A judge’s ruling is an expression of the law – not of their personal opinion. It would be disingenuous to conflate the two.”

Summarising the judgment today, Supreme Court president Lady Hale said: “This court has already concluded that the prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect.

“This means that the order in council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect and should be quashed. This means when the royal commissioners walked into the House of Lords it was as if they walked in with a blank sheet of paper. The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued.”

Referring to the UK’s anticipated departure from the European Union on 31 October, Lady Hale described the move to prorogue parliament as taking place “in quite exceptional circumstances” and said: “the effect upon the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme”.

Former attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, said he was not surprised by the outcome of the case, and added: “Suspending parliament was bogus and untrue and I’m delighted the Supreme Court has decided to stop this unconstitutional act in its tracks.”

Entrepreneur Gina Miller brought the case before the Supreme Court, represented by Mishcon de Reya partner James Libson. Following today’s ruling Libson said: "This case shows that our courts can be relied on to hold the executive to account when necessary and is evidence of the robustness of our system of separations of powers."

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