The President of the UK Supreme Court has said The Christian Institute’s landmark victory against the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme is a ‘most important’ case. Speaking earlier this year about devolution, Baroness Hale considered the potential for devolved assemblies to pass laws outside their powers.
In addressing that issue she highlighted the 2017 Scotch Whisky Association case, where legislation providing for minimum unit pricing of off-sales of alcohol was said to be inconsistent with EU law.
Scottish ministers brought in the minimum pricing; the Scottish Whisky Association brought the case against this. However, last November, the Supreme Court decided that the 2012 Act does not breach EU law. The decision stated, ‘Minimum pricing is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’, and the Association lost its case.
But the second, successful case brought by the Christian Institute was in relation to Scottish legislation setting up the named persons scheme. This was said not only to relate to a reserved matter, but also to be incompatible with the Convention right to respect for private and family life. Baroness Hale commented these were the ‘two most important’ cases recently, adding, ‘the challenge failed in the Scotch Whisky Association case but succeeded in the Christian Institute case’.
In a statement, Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, said, ‘[We] take on strategic court cases where precedents may be set which could affect Christian religious liberty. Our judicial review against the Named Person scheme was one of these — the legislation struck at the heart of family freedom. It took thousands of hours of our time and hundreds of thousands of pounds to overturn this bad law. We give thanks to God that the UK’s most senior judge has publicly recognised the importance of our case’.