The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in Campaign Against Arms Trade v. Secretary of State for International Trade, in a ruling with major ramifications for the licensing of military equipment for use in conflict zones by the United Kingdom and other EU Member States.
The case concerned the sale or transfer of arms from the United Kingdom to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for possible use in the on-going conflict in Yemen. In its judgment, the Court of Appeal found that the government’s approach to assessing whether there is a “clear risk” that military equipment “might be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law”, was irrational and therefore unlawful. In particular, the government had failed to assess whether there was a pattern of violations of international humanitarian law so as to inform its decision on the clear risk test. The Court accepted the Claimant’s argument that the question whether a violation had occurred could and must “properly be answered in respect of many incidents” of concern.
Conor McCarthy was instructed as junior counsel for the Claimant.
Nikolaus Grubeck acted for the First Interveners, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Rights Watch UK.
The full text of the judgment is here.