Nairn -v- University of St Andrews; HL 10-Dec-1908

Women graduates of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who, as graduates, were members of the general council of their university, sought a declarator that they were entitled to vote under section 27 of the 1868 Act. The section provided that “every person” whose name was on the register of the general council, if of full age “and not subject to any legal incapacity”, was to be entitled to vote for the member of Parliament for the university.
Held: The section did not confer a right to vote on women graduates.
Lord Loreburn LC commented, “It would require a convincing demonstration to satisfy me that Parliament intended to effect a constitutional change so momentous and far-reaching by so furtive a process.”
Lord Ashbourne said: “If it was intended to make a vast constitutional change in favour of women graduates, one would expect to find plain language and express statement.”

Court: HL
Date: 10-Dec-1908
Judges: Lord Loreburn LC
Statutes: Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1868 27, Universities Elections Amendment (Scotland) Act 1881
Links: Bailii,
References: [1909] AC 147, 1909 SC (HL) 10, [1908] UKHL 3, (1908) 16 SLT 619
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Filed under Constitutional, Education, Elections, Scotland

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