Robinson v Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Others: HL 25 Jul 2002

The Northern Ireland Parliament had elected its first minister and deputy more than six weeks after the election, but the Act required the election to be within that time. It was argued that as a creature of statute, the Parliament could not act outside the powers spelled out.
Held: When the Act had been drafted it was not expected that its implementation would be without difficulty. There was no explicit provision for this situation. The six week limit allowed for intervention by the Secretary of State, and the wording presumed that an election might still take place. The election was valid.
Lord Bingham said: ‘It would no doubt be possible, in theory at least, to devise a constitution in which all political contingencies would be the subject of predetermined mechanistic rules to be applied as and when the particular contingency arose. But such an approach would not be consistent with ordinary constitutional practice in Britain. There are of course certain fixed rules, such as those governing the maximum duration of parliaments or the period for which the House of Lords may delay the passage of legislation. But matters of potentially great importance are left to the judgment either of political leaders (whether and when to seek a dissolution, for instance) or, even if to a diminished extent, of the Crown (whether to grant a dissolution). Where constitutional arrangements retain scope for the exercise of political judgement they permit a flexible response to differing and unpredictable events in a way which the application of strict rules would preclude’.

Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Hoffmann Lord Hutton Lord Hobhouse of Wood-borough Lord Millett
[2002] UKHL 32, [2002] NI 390
House of Lords, Bailii
Northern Ireland Act 1998 31 32
Northern Ireland
See AlsoRobinson v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland CANI 28-Nov-2003
. .
UnwisePepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .

Cited by:
CitedWestminster City Council v National Asylum Support Service HL 17-Oct-2002
The applicant sought assistance from the local authority. He suffered from spinal myeloma, was destitute and an asylum seeker.
Held: Although the Act had withdrawn the obligation to provide assistance for many asylum seekers, those who were . .
See AlsoRobinson v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland CANI 28-Nov-2003
. .
See AlsoRobinson v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland CANI 25-Nov-2003
. .
See AlsoRobinson v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland CANI 28-Nov-2003
. .
CitedRegina on the Application of Jackson and others v HM Attorney General CA 16-Feb-2005
The applicant asserted that the 2004 Act was invalid having been passed under the procedure in the 1949 Act, reducing the period by which the House of Lords could delay legislation; the 1949 Act was invalid, being delegated legislation, had used the . .
CitedMcCord, Re Judicial Review QBNI 28-Oct-2016
The claimant made application for judicial review of the stated intention of the Government of the UK to issue an article 50 notice to leave the EU, by means of the use of the royal Prerogative. They said that any use of the royal prerogative had . .
CitedMiller, Regina (On the Application Of) v The Prime Minister QBD 11-Sep-2019
Prorogation request was non-justiciable
The claimant sought to challenge the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen at the request of the respondent.
Held: The claim failed: ‘the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.174396