Liyange v Regina: PC 1966

The appellant, who had been involved in an attempted coup in Ceylon, sought to argue that a retroactive law relating to his trial was void.
Held: The argument succeeded. The separation of powers inherent in the Constitution had been infringed, and the appellant’s conviction was quashed. However judicial power is distributed between courts, it is to continue to be vested in persons appointed to hold judicial office in the manner and terms set down by the constitution in the chapter on the judicature, and even though it may not be set out explicitly. Under a Westminster style constitution, the legislature not only does not, but can not, prescribe the penalty to be imposed in an individual citizen’s case.
‘Their Lordships cannot accept the view that the legislature while removing the fetter of repugnancy to English law, left in existence a fetter of repugnancy to some vague unspecified law of natural justice. The terms of the Colonial Laws Validity Act and especially the words ‘but not otherwise’ in section 2 make it clear that Parliament was intending to deal with the whole question of repugnancy. Morover, their Lordships doubt whether Lord Mansfield was intending to say that what was not repugnant to English law might yet be repugnant to fundamental principles or to set up the latter as a different test from the former. Whatever may have been the possible arguments in this matter prior to the passing of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, they are not maintainable at the present date. No case has been cited in which during the last 100 years any judgment (or, so far as one can see, any argument) has been founded on that portion of Lord Mansfield’s judgment.’


[1966] 1 All ER 650, [1967] AC 259, [1966] 2 WLR 682


CitedCampbell v Hall 1774
The appellant argued that, since the Crown had had no power to make laws for the colony of Ceylon which offended against fundamental principles, at independence it could not hand over to Ceylon a higher power than it possessed itself.
Held: . .

Cited by:

CitedHinds and other v The Queen; Director of Public Prosecutions v Jackson, attorney General of Jamaica (Intervenor) PC 1-Dec-1975
The Gun Court Act 1974 of Jamaica established special courts at different levels to deal with varieties of crimes involving guns. There was provision for hearings to be held in camera. Certain offences carried mandatory life sentences reviewable . .
CitedBancoult, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) HL 22-Oct-2008
The claimants challenged the 2004 Order which prevented their return to their homes on the Chagos Islands. The islanders had been taken off the island to leave it for use as a US airbase. In 2004, the island was no longer needed, and payment had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Constitutional, Commonwealth

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.211412