DUBLIN (Reuters) - A group of British and Irish lawyers are seeking to challenge Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in the Irish High Court to try to establish if Brexit can be reversed once divorce talks have been triggered.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty by the end of March, kicking off up to two years of exit negotiations following the vote to leave in a referendum last June.
The lawyers hope the court in Dublin will ask the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, to determine whether Article 50 can be revoked and also if leaving the EU means that Britain automatically leaves the European Economic Area (EEA).
The EEA is the trading club comprising the 28 EU states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, three non-EU nations who can access the bloc’s single market in return for applying its rules and accepting the free movement of EU citizens.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said that Britain might ultimately decide not to leave the EU and that if it unilaterally withdrew its request to leave before the two years were up, then it could stay in the Union.
However in the final judgement of a ruling last month that Article 50 cannot be triggered without parliament’s assent, Britain’s High Court said that once notice of leaving was given then it will “inevitably result in the complete withdrawal of the United Kingdom”.
That challenge is now in front of Britain’s Supreme Court.
The case proposed for the Dublin courts is being brought in Ireland because the lawyers say the Irish Government colluded in a breach of the EU Treaties by wrongly excluding Britain from some EU Council meetings after the referendum.
That claim can only be made in the courts of Ireland, they wrote on a crowdfunding website seeking to raise 70,000 pounds ($88,000)to initiate the proceedings. Over 30,000 pounds had been raised less than 24 hours after the appeal was launched.
The group hopes to launch proceedings in the Irish courts by the end of the year and if successful, move to the European Court of Justice within months, Jolyon Maugham, the British lawyer behind the campaign, told Irish national broadcaster RTE.
Pro-Brexit critics have cast the legal battles as an attempt by a pro-EU establishment to thwart the result of June’s referendum, when Britons voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU.
($1 = 0.7954 pounds)
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Ros Russell