Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, Bart v Philip Fuller: 25 Jun 1853

A section of an Act of Parliament imposed a restraint on the jurisdiction of tithe commissioners in the case of lands in respect of which the tithes had already been perpetually commuted or statutorily extinguished. The tithe commissioners had, therefore, no jurisdiction over such lands. In a question of jurisdictional or precedent fact the ultimate arbiters are the courts rather than any public authorities involved. A tithe commissioner could not give himself jurisdiction over land which had previously been discharged from tithe.
Coleridge J said: ‘Now it is a general rule, that no court of limited jurisdiction can give itself jurisdiction by a wrong decision on a point collateral to the merits of the case upon which the limit to its jurisdiction depends; and however its decision may be final on all particulars, making up together that subject-matter which, if true, is within its jurisdiction, and, however necessary in many cases it may be for it to make a preliminary inquiry, whether some collateral matter be or be not within the limits, yet upon this preliminary question, its decision must always be open to inquiry in the superior court.’
The learned judge instanced the case of a judge having a jurisdiction limited to a particular hundred before whom a matter was brought as having arisen within it: if the party charged contended that it arose in another hundred, then there would be a collateral matter which was independent of the merits of the claim: ‘on its being presented, the judge must not immediately forbear to proceed, but must inquire into its truth or falsehood, and for the time decide it, and either proceed or not with the principal subject-matter according as he finds on that point; but this decision must be open to question, and if he has improperly either forborne or proceeded on the main matter in consequence of an error, on this the Court of Queen’s Bench will issue its mandamus or prohibition to correct his mistake.’
Coleridge J
[1853] EngR 768, (1853) 9 Exch 111, (1853) 156 ER 47
England and Wales
Cited by:
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CitedAnisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission HL 17-Dec-1968
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The plaintiffs had owned mining property in Egypt. Their interests were damaged and or sequestrated and they sought compensation from the Respondent Commission. The plaintiffs brought an action for the declaration rejecting their claims was a . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 September 2021; Ref: scu.294754