In Re Boaler: CA 1915

The court was asked whether the 1896 Act which permitted a court to make an order that a person could not institute proceedings without the leave of the court, applied to the institution of criminal proceedings.
Held: It did not. Scrutton J said: ‘In the case of this statute the legislature clearly intends to interfere with some rights of persons, and uses words capable of extension to rights of litigation in criminal matters, but in my opinion more suitable to the subject-matter of rights of litigation in civil matters only. In my view, looking at the enacting part of the statute only, the presumption against the interference with the vital rights and liberties of the subject entitles, even compels, me to limit the words to the meaning which effects the least interference with those rights.’ but ‘The object of the court is, from the words used, construed in reference to the subject-matter in which they are used, to get at the intention of the legislature and give effect to it. When the legislature has used general words capable of a larger and a narrower meaning, those words may be restricted by innumerable presumptions all designed to give effect to the reasonable intent of the legislature.’
‘One of the valuable rights of every subject of the King is to appeal to the King in his Courts if he alleges that a civil wrong has been done to him, or if he alleges that a wrong punishable criminally has been done to him, or has been committed by another subject of the King. This right is sometimes abused and it is, of course, quite competent to Parliament to deprive any subject of the King of it either absolutely or in part. But the language of any such statute should be jealously watched by the Courts, and should not be extended beyond its least onerous meaning unless clear words are used to justify such extension.’


Scrutton J


[1915] KB 21


Vexatious Actions Act 1896


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedA, K, M, Q and G v HM Treasury Admn 24-Apr-2008
The applicants were suspected of terrorist associations. Their bank accounts and similar had been frozen. They challenged the Order in Council under which the orders had been made without an opportunity for parliamentary challenge or approval.
CitedChester v Bateson 1920
A Regulation brought in under the 1914 Act prohibited the bringing of possession proceedings against a munitions worker without the consent of the Minister.
Held: The prohibition was unlawful. It was a grave invasion of the rights of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Constitutional

Updated: 19 August 2022; Ref: scu.267159