01:31 GMT26 October 2020
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    A crowdfunded legal challenge through the Irish courts to the process of Britain leaving the European Union - known as Brexit - by triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon has reached its target and looks set to go ahead, potentially causing more delays.

    British barrister Jolyon Maugham QC — rated by The Lawyer magazine as among only ten members at the Bar in their 'Hot 100 2016' list — opened an appeal on the legal crowdfunding channel Crowdjustice calling for a case to be brought before the Irish courts. The appeal has now passed US$89,000 — the target for beginning legal proceedings.

    The main purpose is to ask whether a notification under Article 50 — the formal process of triggering negotiations for leaving the EU — can be revoked and whether, by leaving the EU, the UK automatically leaves the European Economic Area.

    ​The intention to go via Dublin is to encourage the Irish courts to make a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union. At the heart of the first question is the issue of how the UK parliament reacts to the terms of its exit and new relationship with the EU in the future. At the moment, the UK Government has promised to produce a plan for its Brexit negotiations and then to allow Parliament to scrutinise that plan.

    ​After negotiations with the EU — which could take anything between 18 months and two years, or even more if there is an extension — the terms of the 'exit' and 'the UK's new relationship with EU member states as a new non-member will be presented to parliament.

    "If we cannot withdraw our Article 50 notification then Parliament will have to accept those agreements — whatever their content. Like a Model T Ford, it will be able to choose any color it wants, but only so long as it's black.The Government will have free rein to do exactly what it wants. There will be no control by Parliament. But if the notification can be withdrawn Parliament will have a choice: it will be free to reject that deal," Maugham argues.

    Single Market Question

    The second issue is simpler. The UK referendum question asked about EU membership, but not about membership of the EU but not about European Economic Area membership.

    "So we could leave the EU but — by remaining in the EEA — remain inside the Single Market. This would also be consistent with the Government's 2015 Manifesto which stated that 'we benefit from the single market' and promised to 'safeguard British interests in the single market'," Maugham says.

    ​Now that the target has been reached, Maugham says he will begin proceedings, with a number of MEPs willing to stand as claimants. The case is being brought in Ireland because the country has a major stake in whether the UK remains in the EU or EEA.

    "We came into the single market together, if we leave it alone there will be enormous economic and social disruption to both Ireland and Northern Ireland," Maugham said.


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