LEGAL COMMENT: European Court of Justice rules that Article 50 can be revoked

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled the UK can revoke Article 50 and halt Brexit without the permission of other member states.

The judgment, published on Monday gives the UK the right to unilaterally withdraw its notification to leave the EU.

Elaine McIlroy, partner and immigration law expert at Weightmans LLP in Glasgow comments:

“The ECJ has confirmed that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 without permission from other countries in the EU, provided it’s done before the withdrawal agreement takes effect, or before the two year period expires. The clock is now, therefore, ticking. 

“The decision is not entirely unexpected. The Advocate General’s opinion, which was released last week, suggested that this would be the likely outcome. Seeing it in black and white, however, may have an impact in Westminster this week. Ultimately, whether or not anyone choses to exercise the right to withdraw will depend on the political position, which is moving quickly. But, for those campaigning to remain, knowing that a unilateral withdrawal is an option will be of some comfort.

“The ECJ has said that any decision to revoke Article 50 has to be ‘unequivocal and unconditional’ and that it must be decided following a ‘democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements’. So revoking Article 50 cannot not be used as a negotiation tactic or a plan by the member state to invoke Article 50 again in the future. The Court of Session in Edinburgh has been asked for a ruling on ‘whether, when and how’ the notification can be revoked following the ECJ’s decision - so watch this space.”


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