UK Government licensing of arms sales to Saudi Arabia ruled lawful


The Divisional Court ruled that UK Government’s licensing of arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in the Yemen conflict was lawful after reviewing open source as well as “closed material”.

The Divisional Court dismissed a legal challenge from the NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) who claimed that the Government had unlawfully licensed arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in the Yemen conflict and asked for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment to be suspended. CAAT was supported in their claim by interventions from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rights Watch UK and Oxfam.

The Divisional 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 (led by Saudi Arabia in support of the legitimate Government of Yemen).  However, based on both the open and closed material, the Court ruled that the Secretary of State’s decision to continue the grant of licenses was not irrational.  Following the ruling the Government said defence exports would continue to be reviewed to ensure they meet the standards of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. For further news coverage, please see here.

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