020 7650 1200

Saudi Arabia Map

Court of Appeal grants permission for CAAT to appeal lawfulness of arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Court of Appeal grants permission for appeal to be hard against decision to continue to allow UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Posted on 04 May 2018

Two Court of Appeal judges, Lord Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Flaux, have today granted permission for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) to appeal against a High Court judgment which allows the UK Government to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.

The appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal in the months ahead.

CAAT was asking for permission to appeal against a judgment by the High Court on 10 July 2017 which did not find the granting of licences for the export of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia unlawful, despite global concern over the use of these weapons where there is a risk they will be used in serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Lawyers Leigh Day, representing CAAT, argued that the decision to grant the licences was against UK arms export policy, which clearly states that the government must deny such licences if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the arms ‘might’ be used in ‘a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law’.

Thousands of people have been killed as a result of the bombing, with many more dying as a result of the humanitarian catastrophe that has taken root. Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £4.6 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:

  • £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

The judicial review brought against the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP, over his decision to allow these export licences to be granted, follows serious allegations from a United Nations Expert Panel and a range of respected NGOs that Saudi forces might have used UK arms in serious violations of international humanitarian law in their ongoing bombardment of Yemen.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has killed thousands of people and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. Despite this, the Saudi regime has been armed and supported every step of the way by successive UK governments. We believe that these arms sales are immoral, and are confident that the Court of Appeal will agree that they are unlawful.”

Rosa Curling of Leigh Day said: “We are delighted the Court of Appeal judges have recognised that a full hearing into this case must take place. It is clear from the open evidence in this claim that there is a clear risk the arms sold from the UK might be used in serious violation of international law. Where our politicians have sadly failed to follows UK legislation and policy, our client hopes the Court will ensure the rule of law is upheld.”