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The Administrative Court has dismissed a claim concerning the UK’s trade agreement with Morocco. The Court found there was no scope for challenging the domestic implementation of the agreement by reference to principles of public international law where the domestic instruments mirrored the language of the international treaty.

The Court also addressed various points of public international law on an obiter basis, including the scope of the right to self-determination, whether the right to self-determination is a peremptory norm of international law, and the scope of the pacta tertiis principle (concerning the position of third parties under the law of treaties).

In addition, the Court considered the foreign act of state doctrine, finding that the claim would not in any event have been justiciable: the Claimant’s case was underpinned by an assertion that Morocco had acted wrongfully under public international law and the public policy exception to the foreign act of state doctrine was not engaged.

This was the first claim challenging a post-Brexit trade agreement and will be of interest to practitioners for its examination of the new statutory regime, the role of international law in the domestic legal system, and its analysis of customary international law.

 Sir James Eadie KC and Paul Luckhurst of Blackstone Chambers (along with Belinda McRae of Twenty Essex) acted for the Secretary of State for International Trade, HM Treasury, and the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.

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