The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled that the Scottish Parliament cannot legislate for a second independence referendum without the consent of Westminster.
The case was filed after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a second referendum on independence on October 19, 2023.
But, according to Supreme Court President Lord Reed, “the Scottish parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence.”
It means that the Lord Advocate, the Scottish Government’s top legal officer, will be unable to clear the Bill for passage through the Scottish Parliament.
Dorothy Bain had brought the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill before the court, seeking a ruling on whether Holyrood had the authority to pass the legislation.
Ms Bain stated that the issue had been “festering” since the beginning of devolution.
Sir James Eadie KC, its legal representative, also argued that the Bill was too early for the court to rule on.
Lord Reed stated that he agreed with the Lord Advocate’s argument that the court should rule on the matter in the public interest.
Reading out a summary of the judgment, he firstly said the court was not being asked to express “a view on the political question of whether Scotland should become an independent country”.
He said: “Its task is solely to interpret the relevant provisions of the Scotland Act and decide whether the proposed Bill would relate to reserved matters.”