The Court of Referees considers the rights of a petitioner to argue against a private bill in cases where the promoters of the bill have challenged that right. It’s rare for the Court of Referees to need to meet.
The Court has 12 members:
- the Chairman of Ways and Means (the principal Deputy Speaker), as Chair
- the other two Deputy Speakers
- Speaker’s Counsel (the Speaker’s legal adviser)
- eight backbench MPs
If the promoters challenge a petitioner’s right be heard on their petition, both the promoters and the petitioner will be asked to attend a meeting of the Court of Referees. The right of petitioners to argue against a bill used to be called ‘locus standi’. It means that they are specially and directly affected by the bill.
Petitioners found not to have the right to be heard can take no further part in the proceedings.
If you’re appointed to the Court of Referees, the Private Secretary to the Chairman of Ways and Means (the principal Deputy Speaker) will be in touch with you to explain more about what’s involved.