On 7 July 2020 the Secretary of State for International Trade informed Parliament in a written statement that she has retaken her decisions regarding licences for military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen, in accordance with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal of 20 June 2019.
The Court of Appeal last year ruled that the government had erred in law in its decision-making processes on arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, after it was suggested that the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes. Trade minister Liz Truss said the government had “now re-taken the decisions that were the subject of judicial review on the correct legal basis, as required”.
Consequently, the undertaking given to the Court – that the UK government would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away. The broader commitment that was given to Parliament, relating to licences for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, also no longer applies.
The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June 2019. Each application will be assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
Exporters should be aware that it may take some months to clear this backlog. There may also continue to be delays in processing new applications until the backlog has been cleared.