Green Party TD Patrick Costello has filed a high court challenge against the controversial CETA trade agreement, which is due to be ratified by his own Government.
Deputy Costello and party member Neasa Hourigan TD have said they will not back the trade deal, which is expected to divide the party.
The agreement has been negotiated between the European Union and Canada and will remove various trade barriers between the two.
In a statement, Deputy Costello said the provision in CETA which would allow private companies to sue countries over decisions that could negatively impact their profits, “involves a transfer of sovereignty.”
“On Monday I lodged proceedings in the High Court to seek clarification on who gets to ratify the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, commonly known as CETA.
“I had sought the opinion of counsel on the ratification process, in particular the Investor Court System (ICS) element of CETA which will come into effect if ratified.
“The ICS involves a transfer of sovereignty and of judicial power incompatible with the Constitution.
“It is the opinion of counsel that there is a good state-able case that the ratification of CETA, and in particular the ratification of the ICS without a referendum would be contrary to Article 15 and Article 34 of the Constitution,” he says.
“Investor Courts as seen in other jurisdictions are hugely problematic since they allow for the governments to be directly sued by companies outside of existing legal systems.
“This in turn may affect how policy makers decide policy in the long run.
“As such, it is of crucial importance that if CETA is to be ratified, then the process used is the correct one.
“While there might be different views on this question of does CETA need a referendum, the only place we can get a definitive answer is the courts.”