Facts: The Foreign Compensation Act 1950 established the Foreign Compensation Commission (a public body). The Commission decided that the claimant (a company) had failed to establish a claim for compensation for the loss of its Egyptian assets following the Suez crisis of 1956. The Act said that any "determination" of the Commission should "not be called in question in any court"
Held: It was held that the wording of the legislation does not preclude the court from determining whether or not the determination in question was lawful; in other words, despite the seemingly clear meaning of the statute, it was interpreted flexibly such that the judiciary could “carry out the intention of the legislature” (Lord Wilberforce)
⇒ Following 9/11 the British government issued a derogation (i.e. a derogation allows a State to derogate from certain rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights) which gave the Government extended power to detain foreign nationals on terrorism charges without trial (so Britain was derogating from the ECHR Article 5 ‘Right to Liberty’)
⇒ There were two questions:
⇒ Baroness Hale said: “[T]here is absolutely no reason to think that the problem applies only to foreigners. Quite the reverse. There is every reason to think that there are British nationals living here who are international terrorists … Yet the Government does not think that it is necessary to lock them up”
⇒ Thus, the appellants won the case and the House of Lords issued a ‘declaration of incompatibility’ stating that the British government had legislated and acted contrary to Article 5 of the ECHR
Held: It was held that where legislation is ambiguous, obscure, or would lead to absurdity, the court may take into account a statement made by a Minister or other promoter of the Bill made in Parliament (Hansard) to aid the interpretation and construction of the statute providing such a statement is clear as to the intended effect
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Facts: The Northern Ireland Act 1998 provided for an election of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister by the Northern Ireland Assembly “within a period of six weeks beginning with its first meeting”. The Assembly met on 23 September 2001 and an unsuccessful was election held on 2 November 2001. The six weeks period then expired on 4 November 2001. A successful election was then held on 6 November 2001. The appellant argued that the election on 6 Novemeber 2001 was illegal: the assembly had no power to elect a FM and DFM after 4 November 2001.
Held: Lord Hutton said that “the Northern Ireland Assembly is a body created by a Westminster statute and it has no powers other than those given to it by statute.”
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