Lady Hale has today delivered what stands as the most seismic decision of the UK Supreme Court since it was created.
Particularly striking was the fact that the decision was unanimous, with many expecting there would be some dissenting views among the full panel of 11 Judges – the most that can sit in any hearing and only the second time such a full panel has sat.
In terms of the questions the Court had before it to decide, the first was whether the review of prorogation was a matter for the Courts at all – was it justiciable. The Court said it was.
The next question was therefore whether the advice to the Queen to prorogue was unlawful. The test the Court applied was whether the prorogation had the effect of frustrating the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional function without reasonable justification.
Applying that test, the Court held that the prorogation breached that test and also noted that the Government had not put forward any justification for the length of the prorogation, other than by reference to the Queen’s speech, which the Court said would usually only require a prorogation of a few days.
Having decided that, the Court said it did not need to consider the motives of the Prime Minister.
The final question was the legal effect of their ruling. The court found that the order to prorogue Parliament was therefore void and it was now a matter for the Speaker and Lord Speaker to re-convene Parliament. It is expected that Parliament is likely to sit again tomorrow.
Beyond that, the impact of the Judgment to the Government’s Brexit timetable will no doubt be seen over the coming days.