Proprietary Articles Trade Association v Attorney-General for Canada: PC 1931

The Board was asked how to identify whether an allegation amounted to a criminal one. Lord Atkin said: ‘It appears to their Lordships to be of little value to seek to confine crimes to a category of acts which by their very nature belong to the domain of ‘criminal jurisprudence’; for the domain of criminal jurisprudence can only be ascertained by examining what acts at any particular period are declared by the state to be crimes, and the only common nature they will be found to possess is that they are prohibited by the state and that those who commit them are punished.’ and ‘It certainly is not confined to what was criminal by the law of England or of any Province in 1867. The power must extend to legislation to make new crimes. Criminal law connotes only the quality of such acts or omissions as are prohibited under appropriate penal provisions by authority of the State. The criminal quality of an act cannot be discerned by intuition; nor can it be discovered by reference to any standard but one: is the act prohibited with penal consequences?’


Lord Atkin


[1931] AC 310, 100 LJPC 84


CitedAttorney-General for Ontario v Hamilton Street Ry Co PC 1903
The phrase ‘Criminal law’ means ‘the criminal law in its widest sense’. The Judicial Committee refused to give its opinion on a number of questions relating to the operation of certain Canadian legislation which purported to prevent ‘the Profanation . .

Cited by:

CitedJones and Milling, Olditch and Pritchard, and Richards v Gloucestershire Crown Prosecution Service CACD 21-Jul-2004
The court considered the extent to which the defendants in the proceedings can rely on their beliefs as to the unlawfulness of the United Kingdom’s actions in preparing for, declaring, and waging war in Iraq in 2003 in a defence to a charge of . .
CitedRegina (McCann and Others) v Manchester Crown Court CA 9-Mar-2001
Proceedings applying for an anti-social behaviour order, were properly civil proceedings, with civil standards of evidence, and the Human Rights Act provisions relating to criminal proceedings, were not applicable either. The section included acts . .
CitedClingham (formerly C (a minor)) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; Regina v Crown Court at Manchester Ex parte McCann and Others HL 17-Oct-2002
The applicants had been made subject of anti-social behaviour orders. They challenged the basis upon which the orders had been made.
Held: The orders had no identifiable consequences which would make the process a criminal one. Civil standards . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Commonwealth

Updated: 13 May 2022; Ref: scu.200229