Transcripts (perhaps draft) of the Article 50 ‘Brexit’ Appeal hearings at the Supreme Court

  • Before we start, I would like to raise a few matters. We order that no one shall publish or reveal the names or addresses of various parties, prospective claimants and interested parties in these proceedings, or any information likely to lead to the identification of those people or their families, in connection with these proceedings, or the home address of the first respondent or any of the interested parties. Copies of this order with further details will be available to anybody who wishes to see it.

    We have made this order largely because various individuals have received threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse in emails and other electronic communications.

    Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law. Anyone who communicates such threats or abuse should be aware that there are legal powers designed to ensure that access to the courts is available to everybody.

    Secondly, it is right to record that at the direction of the court, the registrar has asked all the parties involved in these proceedings whether they wish to ask any of the justices to stand down. All parties to the appeal have stated that they have no objection to any of us sitting on this appeal.

    Third, these proceedings involve a large number of parties and a great deal of legal submissions and supporting material, and the proceedings have come to this court very quickly. That this has occurred in an orderly fashion is entirely thanks to a lot of hard work done by and cooperation between the parties, their lawyers and the court staff. The justices would like to thank all those involved.

    There are an unprecedented number of lawyers and party representatives. We are grateful to them for agreeing seating arrangements which involve many of them sitting in less convenient places than they may have expected. We have been keen to ensure that members of the public can be here and given the limited space, this has meant that not all members of the legal teams can be accommodated in the courtroom.

    All parties have filed written submissions which we have carefully read. Because of the limited time available for the hearing, we have had to ask some advocates to confine their submissions to their written argument, and others to spend less time developing their oral submissions than they would have wished. We are grateful for their cooperation and understanding.

    I remind those advocates who will be addressing us that their oral submissions must not repeat points already raised by other advocates in earlier submissions.

    Next, many people are watching these proceedings because they are being streamed on our website and broadcast on television. This is a very important aspect of open justice, and we are pleased that so many people are able to read the written arguments online and listen to the oral arguments as they are being developed.

    Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone who has taken an interest in these proceedings that the Supreme Court exists to decide points of law which fall within its jurisdiction. The justices of the court are of course aware of the public interest in this case, and we are aware of the strong feelings associated with the many other wider political questions surrounding the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.

    However, as will be apparent from the arguments before us, those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal. This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially and to decide the case according to the law.

    That is what we will do.

    Mr Attorney.