Jake Rylatt: The Irrevocability of an Article 50 Notification: Lex Specialis and the Irrelevance of the Purported Customary Right to Unilaterally Revoke – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘With the constitution of a new UK Government formed around a policy of ‘Brexit’, and the creation of the new ministerial position of ‘Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’, the likelihood that Article 50 will actually be triggered has increased significantly. In addition to the cavalcade of recent posts addressing who is constitutionally empowered to make the Article 50 notification, attention has also been given to the question of whether an Article 50 notification made in conformity with the constitutional requirements of the UK could be subsequently revoked. An interesting argument raised by Charles Streeten is that ‘an Article 50 notification can be withdrawn unilaterally at any point prior to the expiry of the two year guillotine imposed by Article 50’. This post responds by challenging this argument on two grounds, arguing that ultimately a Member State cannot unilaterally revoke an Article 50 notification once it is made. It will do so by firstly outlining the argument made by Streeten, before explaining its difficulties and attempting to clarify the legal position. In concluding, it will be argued that the decision to trigger Article 50 is one that should be taken with the greatest care; relying upon technical legal arguments to provide a safety net risks creating further uncertainty and undermining the position of the UK in subsequent negotiations.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 27th July 2016

Source: www.ukconstitutionallaw.org