The UK Supreme Court gave its judgment on Thursday last week, in the first ever challenge by UK law officers to the competence of a Scottish Parliament Bill.

A panel of seven Supreme Court justices held unanimously that while the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill (the "Continuity Bill") as a whole is within the Scottish Parliament's legislative competence, parts of it are not because they seek to modify either the Scotland Act 1998 (the "Scotland Act) or the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (the "Withdrawal Act"). The latter was enacted after the Continuity Bill was passed, but before the Supreme Court reached its decision on it.

The effect of the Court's judgment is that the Continuity Bill cannot now receive Royal Assent in its current form. The Scottish Parliament has the option of amending it to bring it within competence, although that would mean making key provisions identical to the equivalent sections of the Withdrawal Act that already give the Scottish Government significant powers to prepare for Brexit.

For a more detailed explanation of the Supreme Court's judgment and what it means both for Brexit preparations and for devolution more generally, please see our in-depth briefing.


Jamie Dunne

Senior Associate