Lord Neuberger warns against publication of parties’ details in Article 50 case and emphasises role of Supreme Court



Lord Neuberger

President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, made a statement at the opening of the Article 50 appeal this morning warning against publication of parties’ details and explaining that it is the court’s role to decide legal issues, not political ones.

Before we start, I would like to raise a few matters.

We order that no one shall publish or reveal (a) the names of the certain former claimants in these proceedings, (b) the names or addresses of any children who are interested parties in these proceedings, (c) any information likely to lead to the identification of those people or their families in connection with these proceedings, or (d) the home address of the First Respondent, or of any interested parties. Copies of this order are available to anyone who asks 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 everyone.

Second, 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. Without exception, 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 had to come to this court quickly. That this has occurred in an orderly fashion is entirely thanks to a lot of hard work by, and cooperation between, the parties, their lawyers and court staff. The Justices would like to thank all those involved.

Lord Neuberger added in his statement: “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 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 shall do.”