Nobody Knows

The Brexit nonsense drags on. There is now an argument in which some claim that the government should disclose the detailed legal advice it has received about the legal effect of the proposed future basis of the UK’s relationship with the UK. The demands for such disclosure are being made most strongly by politicians who implacably oppose the “deal” so there seems little point in disclosing the advice.

Nevertheless, we must bear in mind another point. The whole of law is founded on the principle that nobody knows; if you consult a lawyer on a case that lawyer may advise to consult another more senior or specialist lawyer. The other side will have done the same and when the case comes before the court the judge will issue a verdict. Judges are not infallible so there is at least one (and sometimes several) layers of appeal. Such is the uncertain nature of legal advice.

Further, it is always a very bad idea to disclose legal advice of this kind because (a) the advice might be wrong and (b) the advisor may change his or her mind in future or (c) a different advisor in the future may come up with different advice and it makes no sense for a government to commit itself to any legal advice on a such complicated subject when it does not need to do so. To commit itself when not absolutely necessary would not be in the interests of the nation because, after all, when it comes to Brexit nobody knows.

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