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Irish court case on Brexit reversal to be heard this month

Ireland’s courts will host an ambitious crowdfunded attempt to refer an appeal to the EU’s highest tribunal about whether the process of Brexit is reversible

13 January 2017, 8:08am
A man waves an EU flag outside the supreme court in London (Photo: Reuters)
A man waves an EU flag outside the supreme court in London (Photo: Reuters)
A crowdfunded legal challenge to determine whether Britain's divorce from the European Union can be reversed once it has been triggered will be launched in Dublin by the end of January, the lawyer behind the case said on Thursday.

Ireland’s courts will host the attempt to refer an appeal to the EU’s highest tribunal about whether the process of Brexit is reversible. A letter before action is being sent to the Irish government on Friday, according the London tax lawyer Jolyon Maugham, and it is intended that the application will go before judges in Dublin in the spring, the Guardian newspaper reported. Maugham said legal proceedings would begin in Dublin's High Court on or before 27 January.

Meanwhile, the high court in London will hear a claim brought by two sets of claimants arguing that the UK should remain in the European Economic Area after Brexit. The challenge is likely to be heard during the week after next.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty by the end of March, triggering two years of formal divorce talks.

Lawyers for the British government have said that, once started, the process is irrevocable, but some EU leaders claim that Britain can change its mind.

Maugham is taking legal action to seek a ruling from the European Court of Justice on whether Britain can unilaterally revoke Article 50 without the consent the other 27 EU states.

"If we change our minds we must be able to withdraw the notice without needing the consent of the other 27 Member States," Maugham said in a statement.

"I want to establish clarity for British voters and deliver sovereignty to the British Parliament over the question of its future relationship with its biggest trading partner."

He said the challenge, in which several unnamed UK politicians would act as plaintiffs, would also seek clarification of what rights they would lose as EU citizens when Article 50 was triggered and when they would lose these rights.

Their case is that Britain's exclusion from EU Council meetings since the Brexit vote would in contravention of European treaties unless Article 50 had already been triggered.

"Litigating this matter before a UK court is impossible or non-justiciable given the UK's exclusion from the European Council meetings in question," the letter from Maugham's legal team said.