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A Guide to Emergency Powers the Civil Contingencies Act 2004

(And why it does not say what Brexiters think it says)

A thread

Let us start at section 19(1)

The definition of "emergency"


To begin with you will see each of the three definitions have a "seriousness" requirement

But that is only the start,

Now lets go to section 19(2)


Note the word "only" - it is important and tightens the definition further

An emergency *also* needs to fulfil a section 19(2) condition

Not enough to assert something is an emergency

And there is more

We now move to section 21


You will see section 21 adds a further *three* conditions

*All* these three conditions must also be met

You will see that the second condition is subject to further conditions under (4) and (5)

And there is more

If the s 19 definition is met and the s 21 conditions fulfilled, then there can be emergency regulations under s 20 legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/36/…

You will see section 20(5) then add further requirements including compliance with human rights and proportionality

And there is more

S 22 then sets out the scope of an emergency regulation, with s22(1) imposing additional requirement on the minister to be satisfied the regulations are required for certain purposes


Not a big burden but another burden all the same.

And there is more

And now we come to section 23(1)


This imposes a further "only if and in so far" duty on the minister, with a further two conditions

And there is more

Section 26 then limits the regulations to a maximum of 30 days


And there is more

Section 27 then provides for parliamentary oversight

The emergency regulations have to be promptly brought to parliament and will lapse in seven days if they are not


And there is more

Section 28(1) even deal with what happens if parliament is prorogued

The Queen must require parliament to sit within 5 days of the regulation being made


For emergency regulation to be made under 2004 Act is not easy

Definition is tight to begin with "serious" "only" etc

Host of conditions, each of which can be basis of legal action even if definition is met

Duration is limited

Need to be brought to parliament in days

And al subject to strict definitions of relevance and proportionality

There are dozens of ways any misuse can be quashed by a court even before brought back to parliament

To believe this legislation can be used to force through a No Deal Brexit is legal and constitutional illiteracy of the very dumbest kind

13 & ends.

Screengrabbing the definitions in section 19 not of much use

As fitting that definition (which is harder than it looks because of "serious" and "only") is only the first of many legal steps before any emergency regulations can have effect
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