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Eleven Supreme Court Justices to hear prorogation appeals

13 September 2019

The Supreme Court bench hearing the appeals in the legal challenges to the prorogation of Parliament has been increased to 11 Justices.

Originally nine Justices were listed to hear the appeals, which begin next Tuesday, 17 September, but the court announced today that a bench of 11 will be convened, comprising Lady Hale (President), Lord Reed (Deputy President), Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lady Arden, Lord Kitchin and Lord Sales.

Of the current 12 Justices, only Lord Briggs will be missing. The court convenes an odd number of Justices to avoid the risk of an equally split decision. The court is also anxious to avoid speculation that the result might have been different with a differently constituted court.

The only previous case to involve such a large court was the case that ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May could not give notice setting in train the UK's departure from the European Union under article 50 of the Treaty of European Union without the authority of Parliament.

The hearing will combine the appeals from the Court of Session in the case brought by Joanna Cherry QC MP and other parliamentarians, in which the Inner House ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had abused his power in seeking the prorogation of Parliament for the purpose, the judges concluded on the evidence, of preventing parliamentary scrutiny for several weeks of the run-up to Brexit day on 31 October; and that from the High Court in London in the case brought by businesswoman Gina Miller, with support from senior political figures, in which the judges decided that they could not intervene in the matter. It is likely also to consider a case from the Northern Irish courts seeking a ruling that a no-deal Brexit would undermine agreements reached as part of the peace process.

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