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Prorogation of Parliament unlawful, Inner House rules

11 September 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to request the prorogation of Parliament was an unlawful abuse of power, the Inner House of the Court of Session ruled today.

Lord President Carloway, Lord Drummond Young and Lord Brodie allowed an appeal by a group of 78 MPs and peers who sought to challenge the decision to suspend Parliament for five of the eight weeks then remaining before the United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union, thereby preventing parliamentary scrutiny of the progress of negotiations and preparations to leave.

All three judges held, reversing Lord Doherty in the Outer House, that the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen was a justiciable issue, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that what followed from it was unlawful. 

Lord Carloway said that although the normal grounds of judicial review did not apply, the advice was unlawful if its purpose was to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of good governance under the constitution. The material before the court demonstrated that this was the true reason for the prorogation.

Full reasons willl be issued by the court on Friday and the case is expecrted to be heard before the UK Supreme Court, along with an appeal from the High Court in England & Wales which refused a similar application, next Tuesday, 17 September. 

Click here for a summary of the opinions, which have been issued in draft to the parties. The final version will be published on Friday. The court made a declaratory order but left it to the UK Supreme Court to make any further order.

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