Victory in the Supreme Court – newsletter1st November 2019
Hello again from the Good Law Project!
As you may have already heard, thanks to your support, we’ve been busy since our last newsletter.
Read on for what we’ve been up to…
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Victory in the Supreme Court
We worked with Joanna Cherry MP and a group of 74 Parliamentarians
to bring the case against the Government’s extended prorogation of Parliament, first in Scotland, where we won. The Inner Court of Session found that the prorogation was unlawful and that the Government had, in effect, misled the Queen.
The Government appealed. At the same time, Gina Miller’s legal team appealed another related case (brought in the English courts, where they had lost). Both cases were heard at the UK Supreme Court, which found, in a unanimous verdict, that suchan extended prorogation was indeed unlawful as it frustrated Parliament’s ability to do its constitutional duty in holding the Government to account.
The Verdict is a beautiful and constitutionally important one, as it sets out in clear detail how the UK constitution works. The prorogation was nullified and Parliament’s doors were reopened, allowing democracy to continue its working.
A massive thank you to all our supporters, donors and members who have been central to making this historic verdict happen!
Forcing the Government to comply with the Will of the People
(as expressed by their elected Parliament)
We brought an action to the Scottish courts, with the aim of forcing the Prime Minister to comply with the Benn Act, which is designed to ensure that the UK does not leave the EU under a disastrous ’No Deal’ scenario. If a deal is not agreed by the 19th
October, the Act forces the Government to write a letter to the EU requesting an extension to the 31st October Article 50deadline.
As Number 10 had briefed anonymously that they would not comply with the Act, we took the action in the Scottish courts, which have a rare power (the Nobile Officium, or as it has become known, ‘Nob Off’) that can take a legally obligatory action on behalf of someone (eg the Government) who is not able or willing to take that action themselves.
We forced the Prime Minister to concede that he would comply with the Benn Act. And we persuaded the Court to stand over him to ensure he sent the letter and, only yesterday, formally extended our membership of the EU.
We are truly grateful to Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, a leading UK green energy group, for funding the work needed for the case. Ecotricity is also funding two fellowships in his name – see below.
Good Law Project is Recruiting for the Dale Vince Fellowship
The Good Law Project uses law to deliver a progressive society, devising and bringing novel, strategic legal cases to enhance the rule of law, drive demand for further legal change and, increasingly, to strengthen and uphold environmental laws. We use the debate generated by our cases to inform and engage.
We have recently established the Dale Vince Fellowship which has as its purpose to develop and deliver the Good Law Project’s strategic litigation docket. The Dale Vince Fellowship is supported by Ecotricity Group Ltd.
The Good Law Project is now looking to recruit the very first Dale Vince Fellow to join as legal researcher with a broad range of responsibilities. Although they will work across the docket of our work, they will work in particular on environmental litigation, helping us to identify and then pursue cases which create social value and environmental benefit.
Please see the announcement here for more details and how to apply:
Uber VAT bill – as much as £1billion?
There has been progress on our campaign to get Uber to pay a fair amount of VAT, this time from their own accounts: “The Uber Group is involved in an ongoing dialog with HMRC, which is seeking to classify the Uber Group as a transportation provider. Being classified as a transportation provider would result in a VAT (20%) on Gross Bookings or on the service fee that the Company charges Drivers, both retroactively and prospectively.”
As noted in the FT, Uber London’s accounts ‘do not provide any indication of the total sum being recorded as a contingent liability at Uber London’s parent, the Uber Group. But various sources tell us the bill could be as large as £1bn, or more. These are not small sums’.
Watch this space!
Vote Leave – Appeal
Last month, the Court of Appeal allowed the Electoral Commission’s appeal against the decision of the Divisional Court. We believe that the effect of the Court of Appeal’s decision is (in effect) to remove spending caps on advertising in a future referendum or General Election and so we have asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal. We will keep you updated.
In the Pipeline….
We are working with a charity to build a case which tackles extremely high levels of child poverty among a particular community.
The Good Law Project