Davis v Johnson: HL 2 Jan 1978

The court was asked to interpret the 1976 Act to see whether its protection extended to cohabitees as well as to wives. In doing so it had to look at practice in the Court of Appeal in having to follow precedent.
Held: The operation of the doctrine of precedent in the Court of Appeal so far as civil matters were concerned had been ‘clear and unassailable’ for more than 30 years. As to Young v Bristol Aeroplane: ‘The rule as expounded in the Bristol Aeroplane case was not new in 1944. It had been acted upon on numerous occasions and had, as recently as the previous year, received the express confirmation of this House of Viscount Simon LC, with whose speech Lord Atkin agreed: see Perrin -v- Morgan …. Although prior to 1944 there had been an occasional deviation from the rule, which was why a court of six was brought together to consider it, there has been none since. It has been uniformly acted upon by the Court of Appeal and re-affirmed, notably by a Court of Appeal of five, of which Lord Denning as Denning LJ was a member, in Morelle -v- Wakeling …. The rule was also been uniformly accepted by this House as being correct. Because until recently it has never been questioned, the acceptance of the rule has generally been tacit in the course of recounting the circumstances which have rendered necessary an appeal to your Lordships’ House.’ The House re-affirmed the rules of stare decisis. As to whether it was correct to look to debates in Parliament: (Lord Scarman) ‘There are two good reasons why the courts should refuse to have regard to what is said in Parliament or by Ministers as aids to the interpretations of a statute. First, such material is an unreliable guide to the meaning of what is enacted. It promotes confusion not clarity… Secondly, counsel are not permitted to refer to Hansard in argument. So long as this rule is maintained by Parliament (it is not the creation of the judges) it must be wrong for the judge to make any judicial use of proceedings in Parliament for the purpose of interpreting statutes.’
Lord Diplock, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Kilbrandon, Lord Salmon, Lord Scarman
[1979] AC 264, [1978] 1 All ER 1132, [1978] UKHL 1, [1978] 2 WLR 553
Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976
England and Wales
AffirmedYoung v The Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd CA 28-Jul-1944
Court of Appeal must follow Own Decisions
The claimant was injured and received compensation. He then sought to recover again, alleging breach of statutory duty by his employers.
Held: The Court of Appeal was in general bound to follow its own previous decisions. The court considered . .
Appeal fromDavis v Johnson CA 1978
The court had to consider whether the Act protected cohabitees as well as wives. In doing so the court looked at whether it could look to parliamentary debates.
Held: Lord Denning MR said: ‘Some may say, and indeed have said, that judges . .

Cited by:
ConsideredPepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .
CitedSorrell v Sorrell FD 29-Jul-2005
The parties contested ancillary relief on their divorce. The marriage had been very long, and the assets were very substantial. The husband contended that these assets represented an exceptional contribution on his part.
Held: In this case an . .
CitedJames, Regina v; Regina v Karimi CACD 25-Jan-2006
The defendants appealed their convictions for murder, saying that the court had not properly guided the jury on provocation. The court was faced with apparently conflicting decision of the House of Lords (Smith) and the Privy Council (Holley).
CitedWoodward v Abbey National Plc CA 22-Jun-2006
The claimant appealed refusal to award damages after an alleged failure to give a proper reference, saying that the decision in Fadipe could not stand with the later decision in Rhys-Harper. She said that she had suffered victimisation after making . .
CitedRJM, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 22-Oct-2008
The 1987 Regulations provided additional benefits for disabled persons, but excluded from benefit those who had nowhere to sleep. The claimant said this was irrational. He had been receiving the disability premium to his benefits, but this was . .
CitedWillers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 2) SC 20-Jul-2016
The Court was asked whether and in what circumstances a lower court may follow a decision of the Privy Council which has reached a different conclusion from that of the House of Lords (or the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal) on an earlier occasion. . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 January 2021; Ref: scu.182420