Brexit - NI Protocol is lawful, High Court rules

  • 4 months   ago

The Northern Ireland Protocol is lawful, a High Court judge in Belfast has ruled.

A group of unionist politicians, including Arlene Foster and Lord Trimble, had challenged the protocol in judicial review proceedings.


They claimed it was unlawful because it conflicts with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the Acts of Union.

But Mr Justice Colton rejected their challenge on all grounds on Wednesday afternoon.

He found that the Withdrawal Agreement Act, which includes the protocol, does conflict with the 1800 Acts of Union in respect of free trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

However, he added that the relevant parts of the Acts of Union are "impliedly repealed" by the Withdrawal Agreement Act.

That means that the more recent legislation automatically overrides the older laws.

He said the Acts of Union could not be used to override the "clear specific will of Parliament".

Normally, a constitutional law, like the Acts of Union, can only be expressly repealed, but they can be impliedly by another constitutional law.

The judge said the Withdrawal Agreement Act means the definition of a constitutional law.

He also rejected the argument that the protocol had changed the constitutional status as defined in the Good Friday Agreement.

Furthermore, he found that the secretary of state did have the power to change Stormont's usual cross-community voting mechanism in regard to a consent vote on the Stormont.

Further areas rejected

Normally, Stormont must approve controversial issues by a cross-community vote but the protocol will be subject to a straight-majority vote.

The judge said the secretary of state had the power to do this on two grounds: that it was necessary to reflect the will of Parliament in implementing the Withdrawal Agreement Act and that it concerns international relations which is not a devolved matter.

Further areas of challenge concerning EU law were also rejected.

The judge was also critical of an analogy used by the applicants' barrister when he compared the operation of the protocol to the Vichy regime.

Vichy was the collaborationist French administration during the Nazi occupation.

The judge said such a comparison was "unhelpful."

Source: BBC