The Court of Appeal has today handed down its judgment on our legal challenge to lockdown after hearing the case over four weeks ago on October 29 and 30.
The judges ruled that the Government should not face a Judicial Review into the first lockdown measures.
However, we will now seek permission to take this case to the Supreme Court.
Here is a statement about the judgement and the case.
Simon Dolan said: “The Lord Chief Justice, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh have decided that the Government should not face a full judicial review of its actions in imposing the lockdown measures on us all between March 26 and July 2.
“We did score one important victory. The three judges allowed an important ground of the appeal which concerned the legal powers of Ministers to make the lockdown regulations using the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Act 1984. We argued that they had acted ‘ultra vires’ (beyond their powers) by using this legislation and that as a result, the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government were illegal.
“The Court of Appeal accepted that it was in the public interest for the appeal to be allowed on this important legal point. In doing so, they overturned Mr Justice Lewis’s ruling back in July that this point was unarguable.
“Unusually, having allowed the appeal on the ultra vires point, the Court decided to make a final, substantive ruling on the substance of the issue itself – rather than send it back to the High Court.
“Unfortunately, however, having considered it, the Court of Appeal held against us. It has ruled that on the wording of the 1984 statute, the Government does have the power to impose measures against the whole population as it has been doing.
“We still disagree strongly and the fight will go on. We can and will seek permission to appeal the ultra vires point to the Supreme Court.
“Many eminent lawyers, including Lord Sumption, himself a former Supreme Court judge, have questioned whether the 1984 Act really does give the Government the power to the lockdown regulations it has been imposing since March 26. We would hope that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the appeal concerning this hugely important point of law.
“We had also challenged the lockdown on various other grounds. We argued that it was incompatible with our human rights. Because the court refused us permission to appeal on those other grounds, we cannot take those parts of the challenge any further in this case. We will not be able to challenge the proportionality of the earlier lockdown measures such as the right to gather for protests nor the effect on private and family lives.
“However, the Court of Appeal’s refusal of permission on human rights grounds related to the factual circumstances in which the first lockdown was imposed from March. It was not asked to judge on later restrictions which put into place from September. We are still pursuing a separate legal case to challenge the lawfulness of those later regulations in a separate judicial review.
“We find some other aspects of the Appeal Court judgement surprising. The lockdown regulations clearly imposed a blanket prohibition of all forms of gatherings for protest purposes – which is enshrined in Article 11’s right to freedom of assembly. Yet the Court suggested the ‘reasonable excuse’ proviso in the regulations gave people an opportunity to invoke Article 11 in order to challenge any prosecution for breach of the regulations.
“We seriously question whether anyone would feel comfortable going on a protest, in breach of the regulations, believing they could escape a conviction by arguing that they had a ‘reasonable excuse’. Would a policeman or magistrate really go along with that?
“Last weekend more than 100 people were arrested for gathering to protest about their freedoms being curtailed (including the very right to protest) under the current lockdown. The police were very clear that they did not regard anyone as having an excuse to do so.
“In a postscript to its judgment, the Court of Appeal also commented on the question of so-called ’rolling judicial reviews’ where a party, instead of starting a fresh claim, amends its existing claim in response to changes to the legislation under challenge. It criticised the practice.
“We have relied on doing this throughout both of our judicial reviews purely because the Government has repeatedly changed the lockdown legislation – sometimes within a couple weeks of the last change being made.
“The Court suggested such rolling reviews should not be allowed. We profoundly disagree. If we were required to file a completely new set of proceedings every time the Government amended the lockdown, it would make it even harder for them to face scrutiny. It is already hard enough to
challenge a constantly moving target.
“It would also leave each legal challenge more vulnerable to the charge that it is ‘academic’. That seems to us to be grossly unfair to would-be claimants.
“I took up this legal battle because, since March, the Government has seized power and control over people’s lives in a manner which has never been seen before, even in wartime. They have done this using emergency powers (in the 1984 Act) and have sought to justify the ‘emergency’ with spurious data and discredited modelling.
“The regulations were imposed without prior scrutiny by Parliament. They were signed into law by Ministers guided by unelected scientific ‘experts’, many of whom are on the State’s payroll.
“Any vote by Parliament was just a rubber-stamping exercise. We find ourselves in a situation where we no longer live in a functioning democracy.
“Our only recourse was to challenge the lockdown by way of Judicial Review. If Parliament did not examine the lockdown and the Courts will not review what the Government has done, then who is holding Ministers to account? We are living in a country where the Government can do whatever it wants.
“Given the continued acquiescence of MPs and peers to the making of the lockdown laws, our last chance to challenge these destructive measures may now rest with an appeal to the Supreme Court.
“This is not a one-man crusade. It is on behalf of the families and businesses across the UK whose lives have been wrecked by lockdown policies which were implemented in haste without proper consideration.
“Our legal challenge has become one of the largest crowdfunded cases in UK legal history. We have raised over £410,000 from almost 14,000 pledges. This fight is on behalf of all of those people.”