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Court of Appeal grants judicial review application from Welsh Government of the Internal Market Act

The Court of Appeal has granted the Welsh Government permission to appeal the Divisional Court's decision to refuse a judicial review application over the impact of provisions of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 on the power of the Welsh Senedd.

The Welsh Government's initial application, made in January 2021, was refused by the Divisional Court on the ground that it was premature. The court did not form a view on the substance of the claim.

Lord Justice Lewis, who presided over the case, said the court's role was to resolve questions of law and not "to determine the appropriate allocation of powers as between the devolved legislatures and the United Kingdom Parliament".

According to a statement from Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, the Court of Appeal noted that that there are "compelling" reasons for the appeal to be heard.

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Mr Antoniw also wrote that the Court of Appeal said the case "raises important issues of principle going to the constitutional relationship between the Senedd and the Parliament of the UK".

In its initial proceedings, the Welsh Government sought a declaration that the 2020 Act did not impliedly limit the competence of the Senedd to enact legislation inconsistent with the mutual recognition principle contained in section 2 of the Act. This provides that goods which can be sold in one part of the United Kingdom may be sold in all other parts.

The second declaration sought was that the power conferred on the Secretary of State to make regulations amending provisions of that Act cannot be exercised in a way which would substantively limit the legislative competence of the Senedd.

The UK Internal Market Act 2020 (UKIM) became law in December 2020 and governs the trading relationship between the nations of the UK.

Under the UKIM Act each government of the UK retains the right to regulate goods and services in their part of the UK. But devolved governments cannot enforce their regulations against goods and service providers from other parts of the UK.

The Court of Appeal has yet to list the hearing.

Adam Carey

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