The judgement by Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, that the Continuity Bill passed by Holyrood in March is in-keeping with the constitutional framework of devolution has won the support of his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin said all of the Bill’s “provisions are within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”, while Jeremy Miles, Counsel General for Wales, said it is "perfectly within the Assembly's competence" to legislate in advance of exit from the European Union.
The need for the Continuity Bill was prompted by the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which would see key powers in areas like farming and fishing being held in Westminster rather than returning to Holyrood.
While Scotland’s principal law officer, James Wolffe QC, deemed the bill within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, the matter has now been referred to the UK Supreme Court for approval.
Hearings will take place before five or seven justices from 24-25 July 2018, to establish whether the bill is within Scotland’s devolved competencies. The Welsh Continuity Bill has also been referred to the Supreme Court.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“Ahead of the Supreme Court hearings, it is reassuring that the top law officers of Wales and Northern Ireland have come out in support of the devolution settlement and have backed the Lord Advocate’s decision, demonstrating that the Continuity Bill is in fact within the competences of the Scottish Parliament.”