ARGUMENTS THAT may allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for another independence referendum will be heard in October, the UK Supreme Court has said.
The court has said 11 and 12 October have been provisionally set as dates for the hearing after Nicola Sturgeon instructed Scotland's top law officer to make a referral on the legality of a referendum without permission from the British government.
The Scottish government wants judges to settle whether MSPs could legislate for a vote without Westminster's backing.
UK law officers argue this is premature, and want the case thrown out without a ruling either way.
The panel for the case will be announced at the end of September.
Judges have said they want to hear the full arguments from both sides before coming to a decision, with the two parties having until 9 August to make written submissions.
Sturgeon has set 19 October 2023 as the date for a second independence referendum, having previously held one which was rejected in 2014.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) says Britain's departure from the European Union, which was opposed by a majority of Scots, means the question must be put to a second vote.
Pro-independence parties won a majority in Scottish parliament elections last year, which Ms Sturgeon said gives the Scottish government a mandate to hold a new independence vote.
Last week, she launched a new government document in its Building a New Scotland series, outlining that, she said, "the only way Scotland can ensure decisions are takin in the best interests of its people is with independence."
If a referendum is denied by Westminster, Sturgeon said the plans for the next election would be a "de-facto" ballot on the issue.
“While we hope and plan for a referendum, this should also be clear: if a referendum is blocked by Westminster, we will put the choice to the people of Scotland in the general election.
“Either way Scotland will have a choice," she said.