Good Law Project gets permission in Electoral Commission challenge

We are instructed by the Good Law Project Limited in a challenge to the decisions made by the Electoral Commission around the EU Referendum.

The challenge related to the question of whether Vote Leave broke the statutory spending limits. Following the issue of proceedings, the Electoral Commission agreed to investigate whether Vote Leave and BeLeave were working together. This was a huge victory.

The claim continued on the issue of whether donations from one party to another counted as “electoral expenses”. The judgment on permission is available here.

Background

Vote Leave donated over £700,000 worth of services from data intelligence company AggregateIQ to other Leave campaigns – BeLeave and Veterans for Britain. The Electoral Commission said this was fine because it was a ‘donation’ by Vote Leave and therefore could not be a Vote Leave ‘expense’. That meant Vote Leave had not breached its legal limit on expenses despite donating these data intelligence services to other like-minded campaigns. But the Good Law Project Limited has challenged that interpretation because it does not believe it is in keeping with the point of the legislation: to stop campaigners spending limitless money on elections and referendums.

The court has decided that on this point the Good Law Project has an arguable claim that ought to go to a full hearing. Some of the matters raised “merit closer attention” according to the High Court judgment. They also “raise a point of general public importance” about whether donations from one permitted participant in a referendum or election to another fall outside of the regime restricting expenses. This is the law that underpins how all elections and referendums in this country are run so getting legal clarity on this point is of vital importance, says the Good Law Project Limited.