Matadeen and others v M G C Pointu and others (Mauritius): PC 18 Feb 1998

It is a well recognised canon of construction that domestic legislation, including the Constitution, should if possible be construed so as to conform to international instruments to which the state is party. Lord Hoffmann said: ‘of course persons should be uniformly treated unless there is some valid reason to treat them differently . . The reasons for not treating people uniformly often involve . . questions of social policy’ and ‘treating like cases alike, and unlike cases differently is a general axiom of rational behaviour.’ and ‘Is it of the essence of democracy that there should be a general justiciable principle of equality? . . Their Lordships do not doubt that such a principle is one of the building blocks of democracy and necessarily permeates any democratic constitution. Indeed, their Lordships would go further and say that treating like cases alike and unlike cases differently is a general axiom of rational behaviour. It is, for example, frequently invoked by the courts in proceedings for judicial review as a ground for holding some administrative act to have been irrational.’


Lord Hoffmann


[1998] UKPC 9, [1999] 1 AC 98, [1998] 3 WLR 18




CitedSociete United Docks v Government of Mauritius; Marine Workers Union v Mauritius Marine Authority PC 1985
(Mauritius) Dockworkers and the Ports Authority, submitted their wage dispute to binding arbitration. The award granted a substantial wage increase which the workers then sought to have enforced. The government, brought in legislation allowing the . .

Cited by:

CitedBishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Louis and Others v Suttyhudeo Tengur and Others PC 3-Feb-2004
PC (Mauritius) A father challenged the constitutionality of a system where 50% of places in Catholic run secondary schools were allocated to Catholic childen, and fifty per cent according to merit. He feared this . .
CitedReyes v The Queen PC 11-Mar-2002
(Belize) The Criminal Code of Belize provided that any murder by shooting was to be treated as Class A Murder, and be subject to the mandatory death penalty. The applicant having been convicted, appealed saying this was inhuman or degrading . .
CitedX, Regina (on the Application of) v Y School Admn 21-Feb-2007
The court was asked whether a school was entitled to refuse to allow a Muslim girl to wear the niqab full face veil at school. The reasons were ‘first educational factors resulting from a teacher being unable to see the face of the girl with a . .
CitedAL (Serbia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Rudi v Same HL 25-Jun-2008
Each claimant had arrived here with their parents, and stayed for several years. They were excluded from the scheme allowing families who had been here more than three years to stay here, because they had attained 18 and were no longer dependant on . .
CitedAC v Berkshire West Primary Care Trust, Equality and Human Rights Commissions intervening Admn 25-May-2010
The claimant, a male to female transsexual, challenged a decision by the respondent to refuse breast augmentation treatment. The Trust had a policy ‘GRS is a Low Priority treatment due to the limited evidence of clinical effectiveness and is not . .
CitedRotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills SC 25-Feb-2015
Appeal about the distribution of European Structural Funds among the regions of the United Kingdom. It arises out of the complaint of a number of local authorities in Merseyside and South Yorkshire about the way in which it is proposed to distribute . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Commonwealth, Constitutional, Discrimination

Updated: 01 June 2022; Ref: scu.159291