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Unilateral Revocability in Wightman: Fixing Article 50 with Constitutional Tools: ECJ 10 December 2018, Case C-621/18, Andy Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

  • Jure Vidmar
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Abstract

Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University.

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References

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1 ECJ 10 December 2018, Case C-621/18, Andy Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, para. 16 [hereinafter: Wightman].

2 Ibid., para. 20.

3 Ibid., para. 36.

4 Ibid., para. 48.

5 Ibid., para. 75.

6 Ibid., para. 49.

7 Ibid., para. 47.

8 Art. 50(2) TEU (emphasis added).

9 Outer House, Court of Session (Scotland) 6 February 2018 [2018] CSOH 8, para. 4.

10 Ibid., para. 14.

11 First Division, Inner House, Court of Session (Scotland) 20 March 2018 [2018] CSIH 18, para. 28.

12 Ibid., para. 32.

13 Ibid., para. 34.

14 Ibid., para. 34.

15 Outer House, Court of Session (Scotland) 8 June 2018 [2018] CSOH 61, para. 2.

16 Ibid., para. 73.

17 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (United Kingdom) c. 13.

18 First Division, Inner House, Court of Session (Scotland) 21 September 2018 [2018] CSIH 62, para. 27.

19 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 36.

20 Ibid., para. 21.

21 Ibid., para. 25.

22 Ibid., para. 27.

23 Ibid., para. 28.

24 Ibid., para. 29.

25 Ibid., para. 36.

26 See supra n. 19.

27 Wahl, N. and Prete, L., ‘The Gatekeepers of Article 267 TFEU: On Jurisdiction and Admissibility of References for Preliminary Rulings’, 55 Common Market Law Review (2018) p. 511 at p. 513.

29 ECJ 16 December 1981, Case 244/80, Pasquale Foglia v Mariella Novello, para. 18 [hereinafter Foglia v Novello].

30 See supra n. 19.

31 See supra nn. 1 and 15.

32 Outer House, Court of Session (Scotland) 8 June 2018 [2018] CSOH 61, para. 8(b).

33 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 50.

34 Ibid., para. 65.

35 Ibid., para. 51. See also ECJ 19 September 2018, Case C-327/18 PPU ‐ R O, Minister for Justice and Equality v RO, para. 46.

36 ECJ 4 December 2018, Case C-621/18, Andy Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Opinion of AG SÆnchez-Bordona, para. 99 [hereinafter: the Wightman Opinion].

37 Ibid., para. 100.

38 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 49.

39 Ibid., para. 49.

40 The Wightman Opinion, supra n. 36, para. 98.

41 Consider the following definition: ‘An offer is an objective manifestation of intention … by the offeror of a willingness to be bound by the terms proposed to the offeree … as soon as the offeree signifies acceptance of the terms’. See Chen-Wishart, M., Contract Law (Oxford University Press 2017) p. 55.

42 Ibid., p. 64–65.

43 Ibid., p. 44.

44 Cf Holland, J. and Burnett, S., Employment Law (Oxford University Press 2012) p. 213.

45 See Collins, H., The Law of Contract (Cambridge University Press, 2003) p. 356.

46 See Holland and Burnett, supra n. 44, p. 213.

47 See Hogg, M., Promises and Contract Law: Comparative Perspectives (Cambridge University Press 2011) p. 22.

48 Cf supra n. 37.

49 Cf Art. 50 TEU.

50 Cf supra n. 40.

51 The term appears in the following Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties articles: 7, 10, 14, 20, 25, 28, 29, 40, 41, 56, 58, 59.

52 Cf supra n. 37.

53 Art. 7(1) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (emphasis added).

54 Art. 18 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (emphasis added).

55 Art. 20(4)(b) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (emphasis added).

56 Art. 68 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

57 ECJ 16 June 1998, Case C-162/96, A. Racke GmbH & Co., para. 24.

58 Ibid., para. 59.

59 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 70.

60 Ibid.

61 See supra n. 57.

62 Art. 65(1) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

63 Arts. 54 and 56 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

64 The United Nations International Law Commission Draft Articles on Treaties with Commentaries, ‘Yearbook of the International Law Commission’, Vol. II (1966) p. 264.

65 Art. 54(a) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

66 Arts. 65 and 68 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

67 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 49.

68 See supra n. 35.

69 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 45.

70 Ibid., para. 47.

71 Ibid., para. 61.

72 Ibid., para. 62.

73 Ibid., para. 64.

74 Cf ECJ 5 February 1963, C-26-62, NV Algemene Transport- en Expeditie Onderneming van Gend & Loos, p. 12, arguing that what is now the TEU is ‘more than an agreement which merely creates mutual obligations between the contracting states’.

75 See Vidmar, J., ‘Brexit, Democracy, and Human Rights: The Law between Secession and Treaty Withdrawal’, 35 Wisconsin Journal of International Law (2018) p. 425 at p. 440.

76 See supra nn. 70–73.

77 See Vidmar, supra n. 75, p. 429–433 and p. 440.

78 See generally Vsesterdorf, B., ‘A Constitutional Court for the EU?’, 4 International Journal of Constitutional Law (2006) p. 607.

79 The Supreme Court of Canada, 20 August 1998, [1998] 2 SCR 217, Reference re Secession of Quebec [hereinafter: The Quebec case].

80 Ibid., para. 67.

81 Ibid., para. 68.

82 Ibid., para. 155.

83 Ibid., para. 88.

84 Ibid., para. 96.

85 Ibid., para. 67.

86 Ibid.

87 The Belfast Agreement [The Good Friday Agreement] (10 April 1988), at <assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/136652/agreement.pdf>, visited 1 May 2019.

88 The Quebec case, para. 96.

89 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 66 (emphasis added).

90 Cf ‘Theresa May: Brexit deal rejection risks democratic “catastrophe”’, Politico (13 January 2019), at <www.politico.eu/article/theresa-may-brexit-deal-rejection-risks-democratic-catastrophe/>, visited 1 May 2019.

91 See supra n. 80.

92 See ‘Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland’ [The Edinburgh Agreement] (15 October 2012), at <www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20170701045319/ www.gov.scot/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence>, visited 1 May 2019. See also ‘Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013, at <www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2013/14/pdfs/asp_20130014_en.pdf>, visited 1 May 2019.

93 See Vidmar, J., ‘The Scottish Independence Referendum in an International Context’, 51 Canadian Yearbook of International Law (2013) p. 259 at p. 279–282.

94 See supra nn. 70–73.

95 Wightman, supra n. 1, para. 56.

96 Ibid., paras. 66 and 67.

97 Ibid., para. 64.

98 The Wightman Opinion, supra n. 36, para. 98.

* Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University.

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