Supreme Court judgment on prorogation - Stephen Parkinson writes letter in The Times

25 September 2019

Senior Partner Stephen Parkinsonwrites a letter in The Times in which he looks at if the Supreme Court's decision may be seen as an example of 'a hard case leading to bad law'. 


Sir, It is sometimes said that hard cases make bad law. In time, the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday may come to be seen as one such example. There can be little doubt that on its merits the government’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks deserved to be overturned. As Sir John Major pointed out, its stated purpose could have been achieved with a prorogation of four to six days. But courts do have to turn away meritorious cases so as to avoid creating problematic precedents. The difficulty here lies in the court’s reasoning that prorogation was unlawful because there must be a “reasonable justification” for it. It took upon itself the ability to decide this question, notwithstanding the highly political nature of the decision.

When else will courts now consider themselves able to intervene in areas which are reserved to the prerogative? Decisions whether or not to enter into treaties? Decisions whether or not to go to war? The better course would have been to leave this decision alone and for parliament, not the courts, to create new law, allowing the review of such decisions in the future."

 Stephen also appeared on Sky News and commented in The Sun on Sunday on the topic.

Further information

For further information on the issues raised in this blog post, please contact a member of our criminal litigation team in confidence.


About the author

Stephen Parkinson is a Senior Partner who is a highly experienced and versatile litigator with extensive experience in advising companies, organisations, and individuals caught up in criminal and regulatory investigations or public inquiries. His previous client list has included numerous individuals at the top of their fields, whether in business or politics. 


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