Blackburn v Attorney-General: CA 10 May 1971

The complainant sought to argue that entry to Europe would be unlawful in that it involved surrender of the sovereignty of the Queen in Parliament. The respondent accepted that the Bill would involve some surrender of power, but that it was a lawful act.
Held: The power to enter into Treaties was itself a power of the Crown acting on advice from ministers. It was not open to challenge that power in the courts. No Parliament was able finally to bind its successors, and the Treaty of Rome, though once signed was irrevocable, could in fact be reversed by a later Parliament. As it stood the question was hypothetical.
Lord Denning MR (dissenting) said that the 1931 Act took away the power of Parliament to legislate for the Dominions: ‘Can anyone imagine that Parliament could or would reverse that statute? Take the Acts which have granted independence to the dominions and territories overseas. Can anyone imagine that Parliament could or would reverse those laws and take away their independence? Most clearly not. Freedom once given cannot be taken away.’

Lord Denning MR
[1971] 2 All ER 1380, [1971] 1 WLR 1037, [1971] EWCA Civ 7, [1971] CMLR 784
Statute of Westminster 1931
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedMaclaine Watson and Co Ltd v International Tin Council HL 2-Jan-1989
The International Tin Council was a body constituted by an international treaty not incorporated into law in the United Kingdom. The ITC was also created a legal person in the United Kingdom by article 5 1972 Order.
Held: As a legal person in . .
CitedOccidental Exploration and Production Company vRepublic of Ecuador CA 9-Sep-2005
The parties had arbitrated their dispute in London under a bilateral investment treaty between the US and Ecuador. The republic sought to appeal the arbitration. The applicant now appealed an order that the English High Court had jurisdiction to . .
CitedManuel and Others v Attorney-General; Noltcho and Others v Attorney-General ChD 7-May-1982
The plaintiffs were Indian Chiefs from Canada. They complained that the 1982 Act which granted independence to Canada, had been passed without their consent, which they said was required. They feared the loss of rights embedded by historical . .
CitedMiller and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Exiting The European Union SC 24-Jan-2017
Parliament’s Approval if statute rights affected
In a referendum, the people had voted to leave the European Union. That would require a notice to the Union under Article 50 TEU. The Secretary of State appealed against an order requiring Parliamentary approval before issuing the notice, he saying . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

European, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.222916