Miller, Regina (on the Application of) v The Prime Minister; Cherry QC v Lord Advocate: SC 24 Sep 2019

Prerogative act of prorogation was justiciable.

The Prime Minister had prorogued Parliament for a period of five weeks, leaving only a short time for Parliament to debate and act the forthcoming termination of the membership by the UK of the EU. The Scottish Court had decided (Cherry) that the prorogation was void being for impermissible reasons. The English Court had decided that the issue was non-judiciable. The Court now heard appeals in both cases.
Held: The appeal was rejected in Cherry and succeeded in Miller. The prorogation was set aside as void and unlawful.
The prerogative power of prorogation had the effect of suspending the ability of parliament to hold a government to account. That particular effect required that the exercise of the power itself be subject to review by the courts: ‘a decision to prorogue Parliament (or to advise the monarch to prorogue Parliament) will be unlawful if the prorogation has the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive. In such a situation, the court will intervene if the effect is sufficiently serious to justify such an exceptional course.’
‘It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone a good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, from 9th or 12th September until 14th October. We cannot speculate, in the absence of further evidence, upon what such reasons might have been. It follows that the decision was unlawful.’
‘the Prime Minister’s accountability to Parliament does not in itself justify the conclusion that the courts have no legitimate role to play. That is so for two reasons. The first is that the effect of prorogation is to prevent the operation of ministerial accountability to Parliament during the period when Parliament stands prorogued. Indeed, if Parliament were to be prorogued with immediate effect, there would be no possibility of the Prime Minister’s being held accountable by Parliament until after a new session of Parliament had commenced, by which time the Government’s purpose in having Parliament prorogued might have been accomplished. In such circumstances, the most that Parliament could do would amount to closing the stable door after the horse had bolted. The second reason is that the courts have a duty to give effect to the law, irrespective of the minister’s political accountability to Parliament. The fact that the minister is politically accountable to Parliament does not mean that he is therefore immune from legal accountability to the courts.’
‘if the issue before the court is justiciable, deciding it will not offend against the separation of powers . . the court will be performing its proper function under our constitution. Indeed, by ensuring that the Government does not use the power of prorogation unlawfully with the effect of preventing Parliament from carrying out its proper functions, the court will be giving effect to the separation of powers.’

Lady Hale, President, Lord Reed, Deputy President, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lady Arden, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales
UKSC 2019/0193, UKSC 2019/0192
Bailii Summary, Bailii, SC, SC Summary, SC 20190917am Video, SC 20190917pm Video, SC 20190918am Video, SC 20190918pm Video, SC 20190919am Video, SC 20190919pm Video
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Bill of Rights of 1688 9
England and Wales
Citing:
At Outer HouseCherry, Joanna Cherry QC Mp and Others for Judicial Review SCS 4-Sep-2019
(Outer House) . .
1st Div Inner HouseCherry, Reclaiming Motion By Joanna Cherry QC MP and Others v The Advocate General SCS 11-Sep-2019
(First Division, Inner House) The reclaimer challenged dismissal of her claim for review of the recent decision for the prorogation of the Parliament at Westminster.
Held: Reclaim was granted. The absence of reasons allowed the court to infer . .
Appeal fromMiller, Regina (On the Application Of) v The Prime Minister QBD 11-Sep-2019
Prorogation request was non-justiciable
The claimant sought to challenge the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen at the request of the respondent.
Held: The claim failed: ‘the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable . .
CitedProclamations, Case of KBD 1-Nov-1610
The King, as the executive government, sought to govern by making proclamations. In particular the court rejected the proposition that ‘the King by his proclamation may prohibit new buildings in and about London’
Held: The monarch had no power . .
CitedEntick v Carrington KBD 1765
The Property of Every Man is Sacred
The King’s Messengers entered the plaintiff’s house and seized his papers under a warrant issued by the Secretary of State, a government minister.
Held: The common law does not recognise interests of state as a justification for allowing what . .
CitedRegina v Inland Revenue Commissioners, ex parte the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd HL 9-Apr-1981
Limitations on HMRC discretion on investigation
The Commissioners had been concerned at tax evasion of up to 1 million pounds a year by casual workers employed in Fleet Street. They agreed with the employers and unions to collect tax in the future, but that they would not pursue those who had . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Fire Brigades Union HL 5-Apr-1995
Parliament had passed the 1988 Act which provided for a new Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Instead of implementing the Act, the Home Secretary drew up a non-statutory scheme for a tarriff based system by using prerogative powers. The . .
CitedMiller and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Exiting The European Union SC 24-Jan-2017
Parliament’s Approval if statute rights affected
In a referendum, the people had voted to leave the European Union. That would require a notice to the Union under Article 50 TEU. The Secretary of State appealed against an order requiring Parliamentary approval before issuing the notice, he saying . .
CitedScott v Scott HL 5-May-1913
Presumption in Favour of Open Proceedings
There had been an unauthorised dissemination by the petitioner to third parties of the official shorthand writer’s notes of a nullity suit which had been heard in camera. An application was made for a committal for contempt.
Held: The House . .
CitedAttorney General v De Keyser’s Royal Hotel Ltd HL 10-May-1920
A hotel had been requisitioned during the war for defence purposes. The owner claimed compensation. The AG argued that the liability to pay compensation had been displaced by statute giving the Crown the necessary powers.
Held: There is an . .
CitedBurmah Oil Company (Burma Trading) Limited v Lord Advocate HL 21-Apr-1964
The General Officer Commanding during the war of 1939 to 1945 ordered the appellants oil installations near Rangoon to be destroyed. The Japanese were advancing and the Government wished to deny them the resources. It was done on the day before the . .
CitedCouncil of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service HL 22-Nov-1984
Exercise of Prerogative Power is Reviewable
The House considered an executive decision made pursuant to powers conferred by a prerogative order. The Minister had ordered employees at GCHQ not to be members of trades unions.
Held: The exercise of a prerogative power of a public nature . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Nottinghamshire County Council HL 12-Dec-1985
The House heard a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s assessment of the proper level of expenditure by a local authority.
Held: A ‘low intensity’ of review is applied to cases involving issues ‘depending essentially on political . .
CitedUnison, Regina (on The Application of) v Lord Chancellor SC 26-Jul-2017
The union appellant challenged the validity of the imposition of fees on those seeking to lay complaints in the Employment Tribunal system.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The fees were discriminatory and restricted access to justice.
The . .
CitedRahmatullah (No 2) v Ministry of Defence and Another SC 17-Jan-2017
‘another round in the series of important points of law which arise as preliminary issues in actions brought by people who claim to have been wrongfully detained or mistreated by British or American troops in the course of the conflicts in Iraq and . .
CitedRegina v Foreign Secretary ex parte Everett CA 20-Oct-1988
A decision taken under the royal prerogative whether or not to issue a passport was subject to judicial review, although relief was refused on the facts of the particular case.
Taylor LJ summarised the effect of the GCHQ case as making clear . .
CitedBobb and Another v Manning PC 25-Apr-2006
(From Court of Appeal, Trinidad and Tobago) The appellants, electors in one of the state’s electoral districts, applied for leave to apply for judicial review, seeking remedies to resolve the ongoing constitutional crisis. Their complaint was that . .

Cited by:
CitedMiller v The College of Policing CA 20-Dec-2021
Hate-Incident Guidance Inflexible and Unlawful
The central issue raised in the appeal is the lawfulness of certain parts of a document entitled the Hate Crime Operational Guidance (the Guidance). The Guidance, issued in 2014 by the College of Policing (the College), the respondent to this . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Constitutional, Judicial Review

Updated: 30 December 2021; Ref: scu.641418