The co-founder of investment management group SCM Direct is spearheading a legal challenge to stop the UK triggering the withdrawal process from the European Union without parliamentary approval.
Gina Miller wants to clarify those steps necessary to initiate Article 50, the clause in the Lisbon Treaty which, once activated, gives a country two years to work out its terms before it completely exits the EU.
Yesterday (19 July), judges ruled that Ms Miller would be lead claimant during an administrative hearing at the High Court. She is the only claimant in the financial services space.
The other claimants, who are joining together under Ms Miller’s claim, will also be able to give evidence and make additional legal points during the Supreme Court hearing, which is expected to take place in mid to late October.
This comes after members of the European parliament urged the UK to begin separating itself from the EU immediately, a move which was criticised by Treasury committee chair Andrew Tyrie.
Ms Miller said the judges had ruled in favour of a “leap frog” appeal, meaning the case can skip the Court of Appeal and go directly to the Supreme Court.
Speaking to FTAdviser, she said: “I want reassurance that the parliamentary process will be stuck to and that parliamentary members who represent the UK will debate the terms of this decision.
“I don’t feel there was a considered, honest-enough debate, and from a legal standpoint, I don’t think the general public really understood that a referendum wasn’t legally binding.
“We need to debate all of these things in a grown-up manner before we trigger Article 50, so we know exactly what we are doing; currently I don’t think people do.”
Ms Miller, who was behind the True and Fair Campaign which pushed for transparency in financial services, also said people were not aware there needs to be a consultation with the devolved administration in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“There are lots of things that need to happen in a particular order,” she explained, adding the UK cannot have a “wild west” situation. “This first hearing was an indication that all this is being taken very seriously by the courts.”
Legal firm Mishcon de Reya will be coordinating the claim and Lord Pannick QC will lead the court case in chambers.
Kasra Nouroozi, partner at Mishcon de Reya, said if the correct process is not followed, then withdrawal from the EU would be “unlawful” and would negatively impact political and economic relationships with the EU and its 27 member states.
“We must make sure this is done properly for the benefit of all UK citizens. Article 50 simply cannot be invoked without a full debate and vote in parliament.”
Mishcon de Reya will file the official claim on the 29 July, and a skeleton argument – which involves all the claimants – will be put together in preparation for October’s hearing.