On appeal from: [2008] EWCA Civ 1319

Sir David Barclay and others sought relief in relation to the Reform (Sark) Law 2008, which provided for new constitutional arrangements in Sark. The Barclay brothers argued that the position of the Seigneur and the Seneschal (only unelected members of the Chief Pleas), under the new arrangements, was incompatible with art 3 of the First Protocol to the ECHR, which protects “the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”. They argued that the effect of that Article was that all members of a single chamber legislature must be elected members. Another individual sought to argue that the Reform Law was in breach of the Convention, as he could not stand for election as he was an “alien”.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals unanimously: the unelected position of the Seigneur and the Seneschal was not incompatible with Art 3 of the First Protocol to the ECHR, and also the restriction on aliens standing for election was not in breach of the ECHR. There was no invariable rule in Art 3 that all members of a legislature had to be elected irrespective of their powers and irrespective of the circumstances. Furthermore, in light generally of the constitutional history and the political factors relevant to Sark, the position of the Seigneur and the Seneschal was well within the margin of appreciation given to Contracting States to the Convention. Eligibility for standing for election in Sark was limited to those with a genuine connection with Sark in the form of residence or ownership of property. It was clear that in the light of those factors and the breadth of the margin of appreciation, the exclusion of aliens from eligibility to stand for election was justifiable.

For judgment, please download: [2009] UKSC 9
For the Court’s press summary, please download: Press Summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

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