I have argued before that it is arguable that the leader of the Labour party must obtain nominations of 20% of Labour MPs and MEPs (currently 50) in order to stand in any election if challenged. It cannot however be said that the contrary position is unarguable on the wording of the rules.
What is the role of Labour’s National Executive Committee?
Clause VIII.3.m of the Labour rulebook states that part of the primary purpose of the NEC shall be:
to … give rulings … to ensure continued compliance with the party’s legal obligations….and to take action on the advice of the General Secretary to protect the party from actions by organisations or individuals who fail to comply with, or to co-operate with the party in meeting such legislative requirements.
As with so much else of the rulebook, this is infelicitously drafted. However, a natural reading of those words is that in case of dispute as to the meaning of the rules, it is for the NEC to decide on the correct interpretation. The purpose of this power is to keep disputes out of court.
Where parties have agreed that disputes are to be resolved by arbitration before any court action, and that such a ruling is binding on them, a court will respect this and not overturn any decision simply on the basis that it is not the one the court, if seized of the issue itself, would have come to.
So, given that the issue is a clearly arguable one, its resolution should turn upon the decision of the NEC.