from the Appeal Committee
- Petitions for leave to appeal are usually referred
to an Appeal Committee of three Lords of Appeal for consideration
under Standing Order 87(2)(b):
shall consider any
Petition or application for leave to appeal that may be referred
to them and any matter relating thereto, or to causes depending,
or formerly depending, in this House, and shall report thereon
to the House.
- Civil practice direction 4.5 at present reads:
If a petition is admissible, the Appeal Committee
will consider whether leave to appeal should be given. Leave is
granted to petitions which raise an arguable point of law of general
public importance which ought to be considered by the House at
that time, bearing in mind that the cause will have already been
the subject of judicial decision. A petition which, in the opinion
of the Appeal Committee, does not raise such a point will be refused
on those grounds. The Appeal Committee do not give reasons for
- The question the Appeal Committee are asked to
report on is whether leave to appeal should be granted. The House
gives its approval formally.
- Reflecting direction 4.5, Appeal Committees have
not given express reasons when they report to the House on petitions
for leave to appeal other than where the vacation of an order
of the House is required.
- Article 234 of the Treaty establishing the European
1. The Court of Justice shall have jurisdiction to
give preliminary rulings concerning:
(a) the interpretation of this Treaty;
(b) the validity and interpretation of acts of
the institutions of the Community and of the European Central
(c) the interpretation of the statutes of bodies
established by an act of the Council, where those statutes so
2. Where such a question is raised before any court
or tribunal of a Member State, that court or tribunal may, if
it considers that a decision on the question is necessary to enable
it to give judgment, request the Court of Justice to give a ruling
3. Where any such question is raised in a case pending
before a court or tribunal of a Member State against whose decisions
there is no judicial remedy under national law, that court or
tribunal shall bring the matter before the Court of Justice.
- Having regard to Article 234(3), as interpreted
in the light of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European
Communities in Criminal proceedings against Lyckeskog (Case
C-99/00) and, in particular, the importance of ensuring proper
transparency regarding compliance of the House with that provision,
we have taken the opportunity to amend our procedure in order
to provide for giving express reasons when leave to appeal is
to be refused.
- When the Appeal Committee report to the House
that leave to appeal should be refused in a case where the petition
includes a contention that a question of Community law is involved,
the Committee will give reasons for their decision not to grant
leave to appeal and these reasons will reflect the decision of
the Court of Justice in CILFIT v. Ministry of Health (Case
C-283/81) which laid down the categories of case where the Court
of Justice considered that no reference should be made to it.
Under this procedure the Appeal Committee will both identify the
category relevant to the particular issue before it and, briefly,
the reason why the issue in question falls within that category.
This will make transparent the basis upon which, as at present,
the Committee have decided not to order a reference. Such a refusal
is the end of domestic judicial remedies.
- So as not to discriminate between petitions which
raise a question of Community law and those which do not, the
Appeal Committee will briefly indicate their reasons for refusing
any petition for leave to appeal.
- If leave to appeal is refused after an oral hearing,
the Appeal Committee will announce their decision in the usual
way, as now, and briefly indicate their reasons.
- The Appeal Committee may report that a reference
to the Court of Justice is required before they can determine
whether to grant leave to appeal. In such circumstances, the Committee
will invite the House to make the reference to the Court of Justice
and to stay proceedings on the petition until the answer is received.
- We recommend that the following amendments be
made to the practice directions applicable to civil and criminal
appeals to achieve this change in practice:
Civil direction 4.5 (and criminal direction 5.5):
in the last sentence, leave out from "do" to end and
insert "will give brief reasons for refusing leave to appeal
but do not otherwise give reasons for their decisions."
Civil direction 32 (and criminal direction 31): insert
new directions before direction 32.2:
32.1A When the House refuses leave to appeal
on a petition which includes a contention that a question of Community
law is involved, the House will give reasons for its decision
not to grant leave to appeal. These reasons will reflect the decision
of the Court of Justice in CILFIT v. Ministry of Health
(Case C-283/81) which laid down the categories of case where the
Court of Justice considered that no reference should be made to
it, namely (a) where the question raised is irrelevant; (b) where
the Community provision in question has already been interpreted
by the Court of Justice; (c) where the question raised is materially
identical with a question which has already been the subject of
a preliminary ruling in a similar case; and (d) where the correct
application of Community law is so obvious as to leave no scope
for any reasonable doubt.
32.1B The House may order a reference to the
Court of Justice before determining whether to grant leave to
appeal. In such circumstances proceedings on the petition for
leave to appeal will be stayed until the answer is received. Insofar
as appropriate the directions below will apply.
1 See also directions 32.1A and B for practice where
a point of European Community law is raised on a petition. Back