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The problem of abhorrent law and the judicial idea of legislative supremacy

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References

  1. 1

    G. Marshall,Constitutional Theory, Oxford University Press, 1971, 97–103; C. Munro,Studies in Constitutional Law, Butterworths, 1987, 186–196.

  2. 2

    Compare for instance, A.V. Dicey,Law of the Constitution, MacMillan, 10th ed., 1959, 198–199, with J. Raz, “The rule of law and its virtue”, 93L.Q.R. (1977), 195, and J. Finnis,Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford University Press, 1980, 270–273.

  3. 3

    G. Marshall,Constitutional Conventions, Oxford University Press, (1984), 54.

  4. 4

    The word ‘supremacy’ is used here in preference to ‘sovereignty’. For reasons for the adoption of ‘supremacy’, see E.C.S. Wade and A.V. Bradley,Constitutional and Administrative Law, Longman, 10th ed., 1985, 64; compare Munro,op. cit., 79 et seq.

  5. 5

    Op. cit., 38; for a standard adaptation of Dicey's ideas see, for example, Wade and Bradley,op. cit., 64; the idea is stated, of course, subject to such familiar theoretical problems as the ‘manner and form’ argument (see ibid, 72–79; Munro,op. cit., 97–102), according to which Parliament might be bound by a ‘legal’ procedural requirement contained in statute.

  6. 6

    [1971] 2 All E.R. 1380, 1383.

  7. 7

    Op. cit., 72.

  8. 8

    [1968] 1 W.L.R. 242, 247.

  9. 9

    Op. cit., 60, 61; we do not deny here, of course, the undoubted influence of morality upon law; as H.L.A. Hart has pointed out, in his general discussion of positivist ideas, “in other systems, as in England, where there are no formal restrictions on the competence of the supreme legislature, its legislation may yet no less scrupulously conform to justice and morality” (The Concept of Law, Oxford University Press, 1961, 199).

  10. 10

    [1980] 1 W.L.R. 142, 157; see alsoMadzimbamuto v.Lardner-Burke [1969] 1 A.C. 645, 732per Lord Reid;Webb v.Outrim [1907] A.C. 81, 89, P.C.,per the Earl of Halsbury; andBritish Railways Board v.Pickin [1974] A.C. 765, 782per Lord Reid.

  11. 11

    In relation to the U.K. Parliament, see I. Jennings,The Law and the Constitution, 5th ed., 1959, 170;British Coal Corporation v.R [1935] A.C. 500per Sankey LC;Mortensen v.Peters [1906] 8 F. (J.) 93; for a discussion about geographical limitations amounting simply to the view that courts not subject to the U.K. parliament will not enforce its laws, see Munro,op. cit., 97.

  12. 12

    Case 106/77 [1978] E.C.R. 629, 644; see also Costa v. ENEL Case 6/64 [1964] E.C.R. 585, 593.

  13. 13

    Wade and Bradley,op. cit., 137; Munro,op. cit., 129.

  14. 14

    See, for example,Snoxell and Davies v.Vauxhall Motors Ltd [1978] Q.B. 11;Esso Petroleum Co Ltd v.Kingswood Motors [1974] Q.B. 142.

  15. 15

    [1979] 3 All E.R. 325, 329; Wade and Bradley agree: seeop. cit., 138; and Munro,op. cit., 130.

  16. 16

    [1983] 2 A.C. 751, 771.

  17. 17

    [1979] 3 All E.R. 325, 334.

  18. 18

    Sir Leslie Scarman, “The Law of Establishment in the European Economic Community”, 24N.I.L.Q. (1973), 61, 70.

  19. 19

    Op cit., 131.

  20. 20

    Black-Clawson International Ltd. v.Papierwerke Waldhof-Aschaffenburg [1975] A.C. 591, 638.

  21. 21

    Egerton v.IRC [1983] Simon's Tax Cases 531, 538, 539; see alsoPhillips v.Eyre [1870] L.R. 6 Q.B. 1, 23.

  22. 22

    See A.W. Bradley, “The sovereignty of parliament”, inThe Changing Constitution, ed. J. Jowell and D. Oliver, Oxford University Press, 1985, 23; see tooWaddington v.Miah [1974] 1 W.L.R. 683, andR. v.Chief Immigration Officer, ex parte Salamat Bibi [1976] 1 W.L.R. 979.

  23. 23

    [1976] Q.B.D 198, 207.

  24. 24

    Op cit., 88.

  25. 25

    Munro,op. cit., 94–97 for the idea of supremacy as a proposition about validity and not enforceability; see tooManuel v.A-G [1983] Ch. 77, 89per Megarry, V.C.

  26. 26

    Op cit., 74.

  27. 27

    [1976] A.C. 249.

  28. 28

    [1973] Ch. 264, 273.

  29. 29

    [1976] A.C. 249, 278.

  30. 30

    [1969] 1 A.C. 645, 723; the statute allowed Orders in Council to be made which provided that rules created by the South Rhodesian government were void and of no effect.

  31. 31

    See, for example,Bribery Commissioner v.Ranasinghe [1975] A.C. 172 andLiyanage v.R [1967] 1 A.C. 259.

  32. 32

    For example, for the review of legislation in Spain, see G. Peces-Barba,La Constitutión Espanola de 1978, Valencia, 1981, cc. 5, 7, 8.

  33. 33

    [1985] 2 All E.R. 208 (Ch.); [1985] 2 All E.R. 619 (C.A.); [1986] 1 All E.R. 129 (H.L.); indeed, the Constitutional Court of Spain had declared it valid; for an incidental reference to this, see [1985] 2 All E.R. at 211.

  34. 34

    [1985] 2 All E.R. 213.

  35. 35

    Aksionairnoye Obschestvo AM Luther v.James Sagor and Co. [1921] 3 K.B. 532, 558–559.

  36. 36

    [1986] 1 All E.R. 133.

  37. 37

    [1985] 1 W.L.R. 1050.

  38. 38

    Ibid. at 1059per Sir John Megaw; this is a standard approach: see, for example,British Railways Board v.Pickin [1974] A.C. 765;In re Toohey, ex parte Northern Land Council [1981] 38 A.L.R. 439 (High Court of Australia)per Mason J.: “It is incontestable that the courts will not examine the motives which inspire members of parliament to make laws”; concerning requests to foreign courts, seeButtes Gas and Oil Company v.Hammer [1982] A.C. 888.

  39. 39

    [1985] 1 W.L.R. 1056.

  40. 40

    Ibid. at 1057. Donaldson M.R. was actually speaking of the Portuguese state; for the analogous problem of extradition when the law of the foreign state is questioned on political and moral grounds, see Wade and Bradley,op. cit., 465–467.

  41. 41

    Dicey,op. cit., 61.

  42. 42

    [1983] Ch. 77, 95.

  43. 43

    [1986] 1 All E.R. 129, 137.

  44. 44

    [1985] 1 W.L.R. 1050, 1056.

  45. 45

    It is to be stressed, of course, that we are talking here of the most common device of restraint available to the judges, not ‘manner and form’ types of restraint, or political limitations: seesupra, nn. [5], [21], [24], [26].

  46. 46

    R. v.Secretary of State for Home Affairs, ex parte Bhajan Singh [1976] Q.B. 198.

  47. 47

    Wade and Bradley,op. cit., 88; see also Munro,op. cit., 105–108.

  48. 49

    94L.Q.R. (1978), 512–14.

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Doe, N. The problem of abhorrent law and the judicial idea of legislative supremacy. Liverpool Law Rev 10, 113–127 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01082753

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