New Judgment: A v HM Treasury  UKSC 2
27 Wednesday Jan 2010
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 1187
Appeals concern the legality of the Terrorism Order (United Nations Measures) 2006 (‘TO’) and the Al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 (‘AQO’) and the asset freezing measures under those orders. The Supreme Court has unanimously held that the TO should be quashed as ultra vires the United Nations Act 1946, s 1(1) (the enabling power). It also held by a majority of six to one (Lord Brown dissenting) that art 3(1)(b) of the AQO must also be quashed as ultra vires. Lord Hope, giving the leading judgment, held that the legislative history of the 1946 Act demonstrated that Parliament did not intend that the Act should be used to introduce coercive measures which interfered with UK citizens’ fundamental rights. The principle of legality required that general or ambiguous statutory words should not be interpreted in a manner that infringed fundamental rights, and s 1(1) of the 1946 Act must be interpreted in this light. Orders made under s 1(1) would therefore only be legitimate when the interference with fundamental rights to which they give rise is no greater than that which the underlying UNSCR required.
The principle criticisms directed against the TO apply equally to the Terrorism Order (United Nations Measures) 2009, and had that Order been before the Court, it would have been quashed.
Lord Phillips said “It is particularly appropriate that these should be the first appeals to be heard in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, for they concern the separation of powers.” He added “nobody should conclude that the result of these appeals constitutes judicial interference with the will of Parliament. On the contrary it upholds the supremacy of Parliament in deciding whether or not measures should be imposed that affect the fundamental rights of those in this country.”