Expat High Court complaint threatens date of Brexit referendum

Published:  16 Mar at 6 PM
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As promised late last week, 94 year-old Harry Schindler, a long-term campaigner for the overturn of the unpopular voting exclusion law, has today instructed lawyers to immediately lodge a complaint with the UK High Court.

It’s expected that the legal proceedings may well hinder government preparations for the referendum, or even delay the announced date of June 23. Mr Schindler, a 30-year expat resident in Italy, has already taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights, although his petition was rejected. In spite of this, he has continued his campaign to get justice for disenfranchised expats across the world. Last week he announced he was prepared to mount a legal challenge in the UK High Court as the Brexit issue hits hard into the lives of expats all across Europe.

According to lawyers acting for Mr Schindler, thousands of UK citizens who moved overseas more than 15 years ago will have the most to lose should Britain leave the EU, but are arbitrarily banned from voting to preserve their rights. Leigh Day law partner Richard Stein states that disallowing expats resident overseas for more than 15 years from voting is, if fact, illegal and is asking the High Court to urgently deal with the problem by including in the vote all British expats resident in EU member states.

Consequences of a UK exit could lead to worst scenarios including British residents in EU countries becoming illegal immigrants, lack of access to free healthcare, business closures, loss of the right to work, ramped up tax structures and even property confiscations. Although the 1969 Vienna Convention supposedly protects any rights enjoyed before a treaty is terminated, the insecurity generated by the as yet unknown result is causing major unrest in expat communities across the EU.
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