UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia held to be lawful


Re: R (Campaign Against The Arms Trade) v Secretary of State for International Trade [2017] EWHC 1726 (QB)

The claimant sought to challenge the Government’s continued grant of licenses for UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Court acknowledged that reports in the open source material suggested serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law had been committed in the Yemen conflict by the Coalition (Saudi Arabia in support of the legitimate Government of Yemen). However, based on both the open and closed material, the Secretary of State’s decision to continue the grant of licenses was not irrational. The Court found that civilians had not been deliberately targeted and investigations were being held into some incidents of controversy. Similarly, Saudi Arabia was accepted as genuinely committed to compliance with International Humanitarian Law and Saudi processes had been put in place to secure respect for such laws. There was no real risk of serious violations which would warrant UK arms sales to be suspended. The Court dismissed the application for judicial review.

Jonathan Glasson QC, Zachary Douglas QC & Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh were involved in this case.