Manuel 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 treaties. The Attorney General sought the strike out of the claims.
Held: The application for a strike out succeeded. The Act recited that it had been passed at the request of the Canadian Parliament. A British Court could not refuse to obey or question the validity of an Act of Parliament: ‘The Canada Act 1982 is an Act of Parliament, and sitting as a judge in an English court, I owe full and dutiful obedience to that Act.’ Declaratory relief was not available as against a party not before the court.
Sir Robert Megarry V-C: ‘A motion to strike out a pleading should not be treated as being the trial of a demurrer or a preliminary point of law, to be determined one way or the other even if the judge is beset by hesitations and doubts. He who moves such a motion must make out a case that is clear beyond doubt. At the same time, one must beware of any assumption that because a case takes a long time to argue, the points at issue must be doubtful. Arguments must be assessed on their quality rather than on their duration, and sometimes the weaker the case the greater the profusion of ingenuity in supporting it.’ and
‘I have grave doubts about the theory of the transfer of sovereignty as affecting the competence of Parliament. In my view, it is a fundamental of the English constitution that Parliament is supreme. As a matter of law the courts of England recognise Parliament as being omnipotent in all save the power to destroy its own omnipotence. Under the authority of Parliament the courts of a territory may be released from their legal duty to obey Parliament, but that does not trench on the acceptance by the English courts of all that Parliament does. Nor must validity in law be confused with practical enforceability.’
Sir Robert Megarry V-C
[1983] Ch 77, [1982] 3 All ER 786
Canada Act 1982, Statute of Westminster 1931, British North America Act 1930, British North America Act 1867
England and Wales
CitedEdinburgh and Dalkeith Railway Company v Wauchope HL 22-Mar-1842
The company had, under authority of a private statute, built a railway which passed across land belonging to the defendant. They were to pay a sum for the goods carried. At first they sought to collect a toll, but his proved unprofitable. The . .
CitedThe Case of Heresy 1601
. .
CitedThe Prince’s Case ChD 11-Jan-1606
Parliamentary Roll is Conclusive
A document on the Parliamentary Roll is conclusive as to its validity as an Act if it shows on its face that everything has been done which the common law of the United Kingdom has prescribed for the making of an Act of Parliament – that the Queen, . .
CitedRex v Earl Russell HL 1901
Earl Russell was charged with an offence under section 57, namely ‘Whosoever being married shall marry any other person during the life of the former husband or wife, whether the second marriage shall have taken place in England or Ireland or . .
CitedJoyce v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1948
The defendant was an American citizen but held a British passport. After the outbreak of war between Great Britain and Germany in 1939, he delivered from German territory broadcast talks in English hostile to Great Britain.
Held: His . .
CitedMinister of the Interior v Harris 1952
(South Africa) A provision entrenched the right of Cape Coloured voters to be on the same voters roll as white voters. The entrenchment was achieved by sections 63 and the proviso to section 152 of the South Africa Act providing that the voting . .
CitedThe Bribery Commissioner v Ranasinghe PC 5-May-1964
S.29 of the Ceylon (Constitution) Order in Council 1946 gave the Ceylon Parliament power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the island. S.29(4) gave it the power to ‘amend or repeal any of the provisions of this Order’; but . .
CitedBuck v Attorney General CA 2-Jan-1965
By an action for declaratory relief, a challenge was offered to the validity of the Order in Council giving effect to the 1961 Act.
Held: The appeal failed. As a matter of international comity an English court should not grant declarations . .
CitedMadzimbamuto v Lardner-Burke PC 23-Jul-1968
(Southern Rhodesia) The Board considered a submission that legal effect should be given to a convention that the UK Parliament would not legislate without the consent of the government of Southern Rhodesia on matters within the competence of the . .
CitedPickin v British Railways Board HL 30-Jan-1974
Courts Not to Investigate Parliament’s Actions
It was alleged that the respondent had misled Parliament to secure the passing of a private Act. The claimant said that the land taken from him under the Act was no longer required, and that he should be entitled to have it returned.
Held: . .
BindingRegina v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Indian Association of Alberta CA 1982
The court considered an application leave to request a judicial review seeking a declaration that treaty obligations entered into by the Crown to the Indian peoples of Canada were still owed by Her Majesty in right of Her government in the UK.
CitedEllen Street Estates Limited v Minister for Health CA 1934
S.2 of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919 provided for the assessment of compensation in respect of land acquired compulsorily for public purposes according to certain rules. Then by s.7(1): ‘The provisions of the Act or . .
CitedBritish Coal Corporation v The King PC 1935
The Board was asked as to the competency of a petition for special leave to appeal to the King in Council from a judgment of a court in Quebec in a criminal matter. The petitioners argued that notwithstanding the provisions of a Canadian statute . .
CitedAttorney-General v Great Southern and Western Rly Co of Ireland HL 1925
The House considered the effect on the Irish Free State of a liability undertaken by the United Kingdom Government before the formation of the Irish Free State.
Held: No suit can be maintained against the Crown in right of Great Britain or of . .
CitedRe Brickman’s Settlement 1981
Caution on the naming of large numbers of parties in pleadings. . .
CitedTito v Waddell (No 2); Tito v Attorney General ChD 1977
Equity applies its doctrines to the substance, not the form, of transactions. In respect of the rule against self dealing for trustees ‘But of course equity looks beneath the surface, and applies its doctrines to cases where, although in form a . .
CitedBlackburn 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 . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromManuel and Others v HM Attorney General CA 30-Jul-1982
The plaintiffs as representatives of the Indian Tribes of Canada sought declarations that the 1982 Act which provided for the independence of Canada was invalid. They appealed the strike out of their claims, saying that they had not been consulted . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 21 January 2021; Ref: scu.241371