The Court of Appeal in Belfast has dismissed an appeal against a previous High Court decision to reject a challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol brought by several unionist politicians.
Last year, Mr Justice Colton rejected, on several grounds, two applications for judicial review challenging the protocol, which was agreed between the UK and EU in Brexit negotiations.
One of the challenges was brought by a group that included Jim Allister, Arlene Foster and David Trimble.
‘Status has not changed’
The Court of Appeal yesterday (14 March) found that there was no conflict between the protocol and the 1998 legislation arising out of the Belfast Agreement, saying that “the constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom has not changed”.
The applicants had argued that the protocol and its regulations were incompatible with the Act of Union 1800, which enjoyed special privileges as a “constitutional statute”.
The Court of Appeal judges said that, while they could see some inconsistency with specific parts of the 1800 act, the legislation on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement “utilises clear language to achieve its purpose, which is essentially subjugation in the event of any conflict with a previous enactment".
The judgment added that this did not offend any constitutional principle.
No breach of EU law
The court also said that parliament was clearly sighted on the protocol, which was the result of a “protracted, transparent, debated, informed and fully democratic process, which decided arrangements for Northern Ireland post-Brexit”.
It said that the terms were settled and made law after a long parliamentary process, and that it could not be suggested that parliament was unaware of the changes that might occur.
The judges also rejected arguments that there had been a breach of EU law, and that the rights of Northern Ireland citizens had also been breached.