The Divisional Court, sitting as an Election Court, has ruled that a Parliamentary Election Petition does not automatically abate if Parliament is dissolved before the proceedings are concluded. The petition, alleging electoral fraud, was brought by the defeated Brexit Party candidate against the successful Labour Party candidate in the Peterborough By-Election on 6 June 2019. The Petitioner had sought but not yet obtained special leave to withdraw the petition (which would have rendered him liable for the respondent’s costs) when Parliament was dissolved on 5 November 2011. He then sought to argue that two nineteenth century cases caused the petition to “drop” so that the court had no jurisdiction even to order him to pay the respondent’s costs. The court did not accept that the two historic cases meant that a Parliamentary petition under the Representation of the People Act 1983 abated upon dissolution. The Petitioner’s application to withdraw (paying the respondent’s costs) was however allowed. Gavin Millar QC acted for the respondent in this case.
Please see here for a Case Summary and the judgment.