Brexit referendum case to be lodged

A challenge to the legality of the Brexit referendum is to be formally lodged by a Bordeaux lawyer later this month.

6 July 2017
By Oliver Rowland

Avocat Julien Fouchet intends to lodge his case with the General Court of the EU in two weeks - if successful his case could halt Brexit negotations and force the UK to run its referendum again.

A total of 10 Britons abroad are now formally taking part in Mr Fouchet's court action, after Connexion broke news of the challenge in English-language media in April.

Mr Fouchet, of Cornille-Pouyanne avocats, originally decided to take up court action against the referendum after a British person living in Gironde sought his help because of his experience with taking cases to the EU courts. 

More people then came forward to join the case recently after a group of academics and professionals based in the UK and France – Action for Europe – organised crowdfunding  to pay legal expenses of those interested. Mr Fouchet had pledged to act ‘out of European solidarity’, with minimal fees.

Among those taking part are the well-known votes campaigner and Second World War veteran Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy.

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Mr Fouchet believes that the referendum was illegal because Britons who had lived in the EU (or in other countries overseas) for more than 15 years could not take part despite the major impact on their lives of the decision to leave the European Union.

Mr Fouchet believes this broke EU equal treatment rules and he will argue that the EU should not be negotiating with the UK based on an ‘illegal’ referendum, and the negotiation directives the EU drew up to outline its objectives for talks should therefore be set aside. He thinks the referendum should be re-run to allow all expats of voting age to take part.

According to Mr Fouchet’s analysis, it was also unfair for prisoners in the UK to have no vote, as well as citizens in a dozen British overseas territories.

His previous experience in the European courts includes a case related to certain French people banned for life from voting due to criminal convictions.

He said: “We are fighting to defend British EU citizens and we will not abandon them.”

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