British Expats’ Lawyers take EU Referendum vote challenge to Supreme Court

20 May 2016

Lawyers take EU referendum vote challenge to the Supreme Court

Lawyers for two British Citizens banned from voting in the EU referendum as they have lived outside the UK, but within the EU, for over 15 years will take their fight to the Supreme Court next Tuesday (24 May 2016) after the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling rejecting their legal challenge to the ’15 year rule’.

Last Month the High Court rejected the legal challenge by 94-year-old Harry Shindler, a Second World War veteran who lives in Italy, and lawyer and Belgian resident Jacquelyn MacLennan against the UK Government’s decision to exclude British people who have lived elsewhere in the European Union for more than 15 years, from voting in June.

Today the Court of Appeal upheld that ruling following a hearing which took place on 9 May 2016.

However, lawyers from law firm Leigh Day, representing the two claimants, have secured a date for the UK’s highest Court, The Supreme Court, to consider their arguments that under the EU Referendum Act 2015 up to 2 million British citizens are being unlawfully denied the right to vote on the UK’s continued membership of the EU.

The Supreme Court Justices will be asked to consider whether the ’15 year rule’ unlawfully acts as a penalty against British citizens for having exercised their free movement rights.

The rule prevents them from participating in a democratic process, the result of which might bring to an end the very EU law rights on which they rely and base their working and private lives every day.

Despite the Conservative 2015 manifesto and the 2015 and 2016 Queen’s Speeches including the pledge to introduce votes for life, scrapping the rule that bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting, the UK government have not proposed any legislation to reverse this rule ahead of this Summer’s crucial vote on whether the United Kingdom remains in the EU.

Responding to the judgment, Harry Shindler said: “I am still waiting for the Government to tell us why British citizens in Europe can’t vote in this Referendum. The Government had agreed to scrap the 15 year rule before the Referendum bill was passed agreeing it was arbitrary and undemocratic.”


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This entry was posted in All EU.Res. Expat Brits in EU.Ref., British Expat franchise not rigging EU Ref., EU Ref: Supreme Court Challenge, Expats in High Court Challenge 16 March 2016, Gov. Response to Petition on EU Ref. Franchise, Harry Shindler Presses PM., Votes for Expats-The Times 28 April 2016 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to British Expats’ Lawyers take EU Referendum vote challenge to Supreme Court

  1. Pingback: Pull Your Finger Out And Vote Remain | Spain For Pleasure

  2. Patrick Pessina says:

    Unfortunately I don’t believe anything will change for now.. I personally have been trying to understand “why”( believe me I just would like to know why expats are excluded from taking part in such an important process such as expressing their own voting rights) it makes me ( me and the rest of my family as we are now based in Italy) feel like second class citizens honestly..
    I mean if expressing a vote is a fundamental right which every civil government grants to its citizens why are we ( expats) prevented from its exercise?
    I am sorry for my poor English but I have been working in an Italian speaking environment for most of my life now..and I sometimes mess things up!

  3. right2vote4xpatbrits says:

    Bill Spears has commented 14 hours ago via the Sign-Up Poll:

    “Despite the great work of Harry Schindler, I think it is time to make contingency plans for the situation that his appeal for reason fails. In that case we had better have a vote by June 23rd of all those disenfranchised by the UK who are British Citizens resident in Europe. Given that we may shortly be left stranded outside the UK by the action of those British Citizens living in the UK with the collusion of the UK Government, our vote could nevertheless be crucial in decision-making at the European level on our future should the “official” vote be a narrow one in favour of leaving. Of course our vote would have to be done in a foolproof way, with one vote per eligible person per address in Europe, so that the results stand up to scrutiny.
    Is there any plan to do this? In which case now would be the time to advertise it!”

    There is no plan to do this on an unofficial basis, the main problems in setting up and controlling such an independent, on-line poll being not only of time, resources and reaching out to enough excluded British expats for a serious sample, but that, as he points out ,
    ” Of course our vote would have to be done in a foolproof way, with one vote per eligible person per address in Europe, so that the results stand up to scrutiny.”

    Because of the difficulties in ensuring secure “foolproof” voting on-line, even the British government with all its resources currently only allows individual registration on-line for the EU referendum, with proof of identity via passport and national insurance number, and subsequent proof of physical address via the slower postal exchange of paper documentation to establish either a postal or proxy vote.

  4. Michael Cushing says:

    Suprime Court cannot change the law simple – it is not the Judges place to do that . However it will be quite a connundrum for the judges to explain away Westminsters failure to address the issue after all does a UK Citizen ( WMP ) have the right to vote and disenfranchise another UK Citizen from representation ? ( per the amendment 2000 Act miscelaneous page 141 change 20 years to 15 years = reduction in UK Citizens representation rights) Rerun of that debate to change the right to life will have to run the Westminster Gauntlet unless the judges condem the Act limitations which I doubt ( no point of law) So at best the 2000 Amendment might be flawed and the UK Gov. immediately reverts the Representation of the Peoples Acts to that of 1989 Act ( ie 20 year limitation ) for the Brexit Ref.

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