English Bridge Union Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v The English Sports Council and Others: Admn 15 Oct 2015

The claimant Union claimed that the defendant should recognise the game of bridge as a sport. The defendant had adopted a definition from Europe which required physical activity, and the Union said that this was a misconstruction of its Royal Charter. The result would substantiallyy affect support for the game.
Held: The request for review was refused.
Dove J said: ‘I am entirely satisfied that it is permissible to have regard to parts of an Act which have been repealed in seeking to understand the will and purpose of Parliament in enacting a part of the Act which remains in force. At the time when an Act is passed it is meant to be read and understood as a whole. Thus reading the Act as a whole, and as passed, will properly assist in an understanding of the will of Parliament in enacting each individual part of it. Defining the intention of Parliament in respect of each individual ingredient of the legislation can and should be legitimately undertaken having regard to the meaning of each ingredient within the context of how the statute was enacted in its entirety. Whilst upon repeal of a part of the statute that part will cease to have substantive legal effect, there is in my view no reason in principle why it should not continue to be regarded as part of the context of the enactment of the statute as a whole and therefore a legitimate aid to construction.’
As to the 1937 Act: ‘bearing on the scope of the phrase ‘physical training and recreation’ it is perfectly clear that that phrase is focused upon physical activity and was intended to encompass physical recreation, rather than any other kind of recreation.’ and ‘physical training and recreation’ within s3(1)(a) is to be interpreted as meaning physical training and physical recreation. ‘ and ‘I am satisfied that the proper interpretation of the 1937 Act and the surrounding factual context of the 1996 Royal Charter are of far greater significance than any help which is to be derived from dictionary definitions of the individual words comprising the phrase in question. Read in context therefore, the word ‘sport’ as it appears in the 1996 Royal Charter phrase ‘sport and physical recreation’ connotes and requires an essential element of physical activity. In this connection the decision of the defendant to adopt the European Sport Charter definition of sport which requires an element of physical activity was entirely consistent with the proper understanding of their Royal Charter. Thus, whilst the word ‘sport’ may have other definitions in other contexts, the correct interpretation of the operative phrase in the 1996 Royal Charter incorporates in this instance an essential element of physical activity.’


Dove J


[2015] EWHC 2875 (Admin)




Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937, Charities Act 2011 3(2)(d)


England and Wales


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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Administrative, Constitutional

Updated: 28 May 2022; Ref: scu.553493