Date set for Supreme Court judgement on Holyrood's power to hold an independence referendum

The Supreme Court will hand down its judgement on whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to hold an independence referendum on November 23, it has announced.

The case was referred to the Supreme Court by the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s most senior law officer, earlier this year. It is intended to bring legal clarity to the question of whether Holyrood can legislate to hold a referendum without the consent of Westminster.

The judgement will come just six weeks after the hearings took place in London in front of a panel of five judges. The judgement will answer whether the case is premature due to the fact there is only a proposed bill and not an actual, amended bill, before it moves on to the question of competency.

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Central to this will be the question whether a referendum bill relates to reserved matters or not. The court may rule that the bill is premature, but still offer a judgement on whether it would be within Holyrood’s power.

The judgement will be handed down live on the Supreme Court website at 9.45am on Wednesday, November 23.

Should the Scottish Government win, which is seen as unlikely by legal experts, it will move to legislate for a second independence referendum to take place on October 19, next year.

The Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, the Scottish Government’s top law officer, argued in court that Holyrood’s competence over the Bill was a “critically important question”.

She asked the judges to rule on its legislative competence, saying a majority of MSPs were elected in 2021 on a manifesto commitment to hold another referendum.

The Supreme Court will hand down its judgement on the independence referendum case on November 23.

The SNP was allowed to intervene in a separate written submission to the court.

The UK Government’s legal representative, Sir James Eadie KC, argued it was “obvious” Holyrood does not have legislative competence.

He also argued the Bill was at too early a stage for the court to issue a ruling on.

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The court will firstly address whether it will determine the “reference” from the Lord Advocate, before turning to the question of reserved matters.

The decision is due to be handed down at 9.45am.

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