Why is Miller's case titled R (Miller)?

R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The meaning of R is Regina (Queen). This is confusing me. Wasn't the case brought by 'an individual(s) v the government'? Why is the title 'government (individual) v government'?

  • 3
    N.B. The linked Wikipedia article gives the "full name" as "R (on the application of Miller and another) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union"
    – owjburnham
    Mar 28 '19 at 13:55

The Queen (or King) is not the government; she represents the State. The difference is often ignored by ministers, but is important particularly in constitutional cases.

Miller began as Miller v Home Office, a judicial review case. When it became clear that the question was what powers the government actually had in a certain situation, the Supreme Court decided that constitutional points should be argued by, effectively, an amicus curiae on behalf of the state, with government lawyers defending their own viewpoint (and other interested parties intervening). This made it, in their view, a case of the state versus the government, with 'Miller' being either an acknowledgement that the applicant remained a party or a means of distinguishing this case from all the other "R. -v- Government" cases over the years, depending on your point of view.

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    Thank you for addressing my confusion. Is there an example to how the difference is often ignored by ministers?
    – user24985
    Mar 28 '19 at 11:50
  • 2
    @user24985: Ministers are, after all members of Her Majesty's government, so often the government and its ministers do act on behalf of the Crown. They just aren't the only people who act on behalf of the Crown. So sometimes the difference between Crown and government genuinely is negligible. Other times ministers maybe lack a little humility or overlook their own legal limitations, which I suspect is what Tim's alluding to. They should note that although R stands for Regina/Rex, it still means for the Crown. Not personally for the Queen, and not specifically for the government. Mar 28 '19 at 23:45

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