How the UK passed the most invasive surveillance law in democratic history

You might not have noticed thanks to world events, but the UK parliament recently approved the government’s so-called Snooper’s Charter and it will soon become law. This nickname for the Investigatory Powers Bill is well earned. It represents a new level and nature of surveillance that goes beyond anything previously set out in law in a democratic society. It is not a modernisation of existing law, but something qualitatively different, something that intrudes upon every UK citizen’s life in a way that would even a decade ago have been inconceivable.

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Scotland, Catalonia and the Constitutional Taboo of Secession

The UK constitution does not allow Scotland to unilaterally secede in the case of Brexit – in that respect its situation is not unlike Catalonia’s. Given the political nature of the UK uncodified constitution, it is almost unthinkable that a similar judicialisation of politics will occur in the UK as it did in Spain. However, unless Westminster takes seriously into account the demands of the devolved administrations in the Brexit negotiations, there is a real danger that a serious constitutional stalemate will occur.

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Wahlkreisreform in UK: die Neuvermessung des Mehrheitswahlrechts

Wahlkreisreformen sind oft eine anrüchige Sache. Die Regierungsmehrheit gerät leicht in den Verdacht, sich die Wahlkreise zu ihrem eigenen Vorteil zurechtzuschneiden. Auch in Großbritannien gibt es laute Proteste der Opposition gegen die aktuellen Reformpläne der Tories. Doch wenn man genauer hinsieht, zeigt sich: die Demokratie im Vereinigten Königreich wird eher profitieren.

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The Big Picture

In Europe, UK, and USA constitutional structures are proving unfit to respond to the challenges of the XXI century. Now is the time to ride on the constitutional moment for the all three of them.

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On the Slippery Slope to a ,People’s Court'

Writes Matej Avbelj in High time for popular constitutionalism!, ‘The majority in our societies seems to be increasingly disconnected with the liberal values that especially the legal academia, but also the ruling political class – at least on a declaratory level – have taken for granted…’ Living as I do in the country in which one sees an increasing distaste for the European Convention of Human Rights and regular media criticism of the ‘unelected judges’ in Strasbourg – and that despite the fact that the judges of the Court are, in fact, elected from a slate of three by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – I cannot help wondering whether the disconnect is anything very new.

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Miller, Brexit and the (maybe not to so evil) Court of Justice

As strange as this might sound, hardcore Brexiteers have now their closest and most reliable ally not at home. But in what they have considered to be, all these years, the evil, monstrous, devilish, undemocratic, unelected, corrupt and dictatorial Court of Justice of the European Union.

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The Article 50 Litigation and the Court of Justice: Why the Supreme Court must NOT refer

Is the UK Supreme Court in the current Brexit case obliged to refer to the Luxembourg Court? If that were the case, the conformity of any Member State’s EU exit with its own constitutional requirements would be open to review by the CJEU – and hence could no longer be qualified as an act of self-determination since a EU institution would have the final say on it.

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The Article 50 Litigation and the Court of Justice: Why the Supreme Court must refer

Article 50 TEU says that member states decide to withdraw from the Union "according to their own constitutional requirements". It is for the Luxembourg Court to clarify what this means. Thus, in the current case on Brexit the UK Supreme Court is obliged to refer to the European Court of Justice. One could argue that this should never have been made a Union problem. But it was, and, like it or not, that makes it the Court of Justice’s problem too.

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Who Speaks in the Name of the People?  

The practice of using a referendum to justify the power of the executive has been used and abused throughout history. Napoleon who ruled like a plebiscitarian monarch can serve as the best counter example for contemporary liberal democratic regimes. All the institutions of the government, the executive, the parliament and the judiciary speak in the name of the people in our conception of the western democratic constitutionalism. It is only thanks to the checks and balances that the separation of powers provides in a conception of collaborative constitutionalism that we can avoid practices of misusing references to a supposed democratic legitimacy in view of derailing the operations of the government in a direction that is entirely out of control of democracy itself.

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Brexit, Democracy and the Rule of Law

The decision of the High Court in London this week was a ruling not on whether Brexit should happen, but on how it can happen lawfully. There is nothing at all in the court’s judgment to block the will of the people, to reverse the result of the referendum, or to get in the way of Brexit. Nor is there anything inappropriate in turning to the courts to determine how Brexit can proceed in accordance with the rule of law. That said, as a lawyer I think the court’s ruling is wrong.

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