The Lord Kerr who wrote Article 50 isn’t the Lord Kerr who sits on the Supreme Court

Published: 25th Sep 2019

In brief


Lord Kerr, who sits on the UK Supreme Court, wrote Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.


Wrong. There are two Lord Kerrs. John Kerr, who was one of the authors of Article 50, does not sit on the Supreme Court. That’s Brian Kerr.

Following the unanimous decision of the UK Supreme Court that the government’s prorogation of parliament was unlawful, there has been some discussion of the judges who heard the case.

The Conservative politician and former MEP David Campbell Bannerman seemed to claim on Twitter that Lord Kerr, one of the eleven justices who heard the prorogation case, was the author of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 is the section of the Treaty on European Union that sets out the legal mechanism for a member state leaving the EU.

This is wrong. The Lord Kerr who sits on the Supreme Court is a different Lord Kerr to the Lord Kerr who was an author of Article 50.

The Supreme Court’s Lord Kerr is Brian Kerr, Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, a former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

The Lord Kerr who was involved with Article 50 is John Kerr, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a career diplomat and former UK Permanent Representative to the EU. Between 2002 and 2003, before his peerage, he served as Secretary-General of the “Convention on the Future of Europe”, the body which drafted the text that ultimately formed the basis for the Lisbon Treaty, including Article 50.

Information wrongly describing John Kerr as one of the Supreme Court justices was also added to Wikipedia, where it was live for just over an hour.

Was this page useful to you? Yes  No


Full Fact and international partners win Google AI Impact Challenge

We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email