Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Supreme Court to hear expats EU-vote appeal

Supreme Court to hear expats EU-vote appeal


Lawyers say unlawful '15 year old rule' is a penalty against free movement rights

The Supreme Court will decide whether two million British citizens living in Europe should have a right to vote in the EU referendum after the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by expats.

Last month, the High Court rejected a challenge by two Brits who have been banned from voting in the plebiscite because they have lived outside of the UK for over 15 years.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the ruling following a hearing on 9 May 2016.

Next Tuesday (24 May), the UK's highest court will be asked to consider whether the '15 year rule' unlawfully acts as a penalty against British citizens for having exercised their free movement rights.

The claimant's lawyers, Leigh Day, said the rule prevents them from participating in a democratic process, the result of which might bring to an end the very EU rights on that they rely and base their working and private lives on every day.

The firm said the UK government has failed to propose any legislation ahead of the 23 June vote to reverse the rule despite the Conservative's 2015 manifesto and two previous Queen's Speeches, including the pledge to introduce votes for life.

Responding to the Court of Appeal's judgment, one of the Brits bringing the challenge, Harry Shindler said: 'I am still waiting for the government to tell us why British citizens in Europe can't vote in this referendum.

'The government had agreed to scrap the 15 year rule before the [EU] Referendum Bill was passed agreeing it was arbitrary and undemocratic.'