Agnew and Others

Date of publication: January 24, 2017

The Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must authorise the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

PILS Members: Jones, Cassidy and Brett Solicitors,  Committee on the Administration of Justice and The Human Rights Consortium were applicants in the case.

The PILS Project provided the significant indemnity required against the legal costs of the government if the case was not successful.


On 23rd June 2016, the people of the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union (EU). The government claimed that they could use executive powers, known as the Royal Prerogative, to start the removal of the UK from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), without the consent of Parliament.

On the 24th January 2017, by a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.

As regards devolution issues, the Court unanimously rejected arguments that the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly should vote on whether Article 50 could be triggered.


The judgment ensured that Parliament passed legislation authorising the government to give notice to the EU that it intends to withdraw from it, in line with Article 50.