Is Shindler Brexit referendum case still under way?

French barrister Julien Fouchet is appealing on behalf of clients including votes campaigner Harry Shindler

Is there any progress on the Shindler/Fouchet European court case about the Brexit referendum?  J.S.

An appeal is under way on behalf of Britons in the EU including Second World War veteran Harry Shindler, and French barrister Julien Fouchet hopes that the rejection of the Brexit deal by British MPs last week may help to speed things up.

Mr Fouchet’s case challenging the basis of the Brexit negotiations because long-term British expatriates were excluded from the UK’s referendum which led to them, was declared inadmissible by the General Court of the EU last year. It said the case was premature because no Britons in the EU were affected by the Brexit negotiations as Brexit had not happened yet. 

Mr Fouchet is currently appealing to the European Court of Justice and he has been seeking to gather evidence bolstering his case, notably he said he hoped to show that people’s lives and choices have already been affected (eg. by being refused the right to register to vote, or refused a job, home rental or loan etc). If this applies to you, especially if you have evidence in writing, let us know at news@connexionfrance.com

Mr Fouchet has asked the ECJ to take a decision quickly (in an ‘accelerated procedure’) due to the fact Brexit is imminent however he told Connexion he is still waiting for news from the court on this point.

He said he is still hopeful it is possible to obtain a ruling that his case is admissible before the expected date of Brexit (March 29, 2019); however a full hearing on the facts of the case may now have to wait until later.

He said: “The rejection of the withdrawal agreement by British MPs is a good thing for the case because the court has to be able to rule solely on the law, without fear of influencing a vote in the national parliament. Now the court knows there is no deal, or practically no deal, on the table and its ruling will not call it into question.”

He added that such a ruling might include remarks on principles of EU law which would help to ensure Britons living abroad in the EU were allowed to vote in a new Brexit referendum, if one takes place.

“Brexit is a mockery of democracy. All of the people of Europe must understand that, and a decision of the European court on the principles would help to anchor the fundamental principle of equality of all European citizens.”

He said the risk of a no-deal Brexit, or otherwise of one in which EU citizenship rights of Britons are not fully respected, justifies the court’s decision being speeded up.

“I would so like the court to accept, so I have the chance to explain to the court this double punishment of being excluded from the vote and losing European citizenship just for having exercised their freedom of movement, a freedom which is seen as sacred by the EU.”

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