The Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) against the Divisional Court’s dismissal of its judicial review claim against the International Trade Secretary. The appeal had been heard in April 2019, and had been brought on both open and closed grounds.
Angus McCullough QC was acting as lead Special Advocate in this case concerning export licenses for the sale of UK-produced arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia. CAAT challenged the decision not to suspend licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen. CAAT argued that the decision was in breach of Government policy not to allow the export of arms where there is a clear risk that they might be used to commit a serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). The Divisional Court (Burnett LJ and Haddon-Cave J) dismissed the claim relying, among other things, on closed material available to the MOD and FCO.
After open and closed hearings, the Court of Appeal (Sir Terence Etherton MR, Irwin and Singh LJJ) today allowed CAAT’s appeal. As stated in the Court’s Press Summary:
“On these facts, there was a legal obligation (as a matter of rationality) to make a systematic assessment of past possible violations, not necessarily in every case but, where possible, before deciding whether there is a clear risk of future serious violations.”
The judgment was livestreamed via the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website, details here and open judgment available here.
The open judgment at first instance can be found here and 1COR previous news items on this story here.
UK Human Rights Blog post here.
Some of the press comment on the cases can be found here:
- The Independent
- Lawtel (paywall)