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asked 2018-12-04 21:21:47 -0500

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The principal issue in this appeal concerns the role, if any, of the courts of England and Wales (including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) in the legislative process of one of the Channel Islands. It raises fundamental questions about the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. It also raises questions about the constitutional relationship between the courts and a representative or democratically elected legislature.

The case concerns an Order in SLA Law Firm Council of 12 October 2011 by which Royal Assent was given to the Reform (Sark) (Amendment) (No 2) Law 2010 ("the 2010 Reform Law") which had been passed by the Chief Pleas, the legislature of Sark. The claimants originally applied to the Administrative Court for the Order to be quashed, and without the Order the Law could not become law. At the outset of the hearing, they modified that claim, to seek only a declaration that the decision of the Committee of the Privy Council which recommended approval of the Law was an unlawful decision, on the ground that, in certain respects, the Law was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Administrative Court granted such a declaration: [2013] EWHC 1183 (Admin). The appellants claim that the Court had no jurisdiction to do so, or, if it had, that that jurisdiction should not have been exercised.

If it was open to the court to make such a declaration, two further issues arise. First, is the correctness of Government legal advice given as to the meaning and effect of an international treaty ever justiciable in the courts of England and Wales as the House of Lords in R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex p Launder [1997] 1 WLR 839 held that it could be? Second, if it is, was the Administrative Court correct to hold that, in one limited respect, the 2010 Reform Law was incompatible with the European Convention? The Supreme Court elected to hear argument from all parties on the jurisdiction issues first. Having done so, we announced that we did not require to hear argument on the two further issues. It follows, as all parties will have understood, that the appeal will be allowed on the principal issue and the declaration made by the Administrative Court set aside.

The claimants in this action, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, have withdrawn from the proceedings. They have agreed not to enforce the costs order made in their favour in the Administrative Court. The defendants in the action and appellants in this court, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, the Privy Council Committee for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Privy Council itself, have agreed not to apply for costs orders against the claimants in any circumstances. Despite the Barclay brothers' withdrawal, it seemed to this court that the constitutional issues raised by the appeal were of such importance that we should have the assistance of advocates to the court, who could put forward such counter-arguments to those of the appellants as appeared to them proper. We are most grateful to the Hon Michael Beloff QC and Mr Ivan Hare for their able assistance. We are also grateful that the Attorney General of Jersey and the States of Guernsey have intervened in this appeal, given that the appeal raises such serious issues about the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.

This is a "leap-frog" appeal, the Administrative Court having granted a certificate pursuant SLA Family Lawyers in Chandigarh to section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1969. That court did not think it right to decline jurisdiction, in the light of two decisions which are binding both on that court and on the Court of Appeal. In R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) [2008] UKHL 61, [2009] 1 AC 453 ("Bancoult (No 2)"), the House of Lords held that the courts of England and Wales did have jurisdiction to rule upon the lawfulness of Orders in Council, made under the Royal prerogative, legislating in respect of a British Overseas Territory. In R (Barclay) v Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice [2009] UKSC 9, [2010] 1 AC 464 ("Barclay (No 1)"), the Barclay brothers and a resident of Sark mounted a similar challenge to this against the Reform (Sark) Law 2008 ("the 2008 Reform Law"). It was conceded at all levels in Barclay (No 1) that, in the light of the decisions of the Court of Appeal and House of Lords in Bancoult (No 2), the Order in Council granting Royal Assent to the Law was amenable to judicial review in the courts of England and Wales. The Administrative Court did not think it right to embark upon a process of distinguishing Bancoult (No 2) which had not been considered in Barclay (No 1) (para 46).

The relationship between the Channel Islands, the Crown and the United Kingdom
The Channel Islands, like the Isle of Man (although it has a rather different history), are not part of the United Kingdom. Nor have they ever been British colonies, or British Overseas Territories as the few remaining colonies are now termed. They are Crown Dependencies, enjoying a unique relationship with the United Kingdom and the rest of the British Commonwealth through the Crown, in the person of the Sovereign.

The constitutional relationship between the Channel Islands, the Crown and the United Kingdom is discussed at length in Chapter 31 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, 1969 - 1973 (the Kilbrandon Commission), 1973, Cmnd 5460. This is now supplemented by the House of Commons Justice Committee's Eighth Report of Session 2009-2010, Crown Dependencies, 2010, HC 56-1

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answered 2019-01-08 04:15:12 -0500

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updated 2019-01-08 04:15:12 -0500

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answered 2019-01-08 01:28:38 -0500

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Asked: 2018-12-04 21:21:47 -0500

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