The Province of Bombay v The Municipal Corporation of The City of Bombay and Another: PC 10 Oct 1946

(Bombay) The Board considered whether the Crown was bound by section 222(1) and section 265 of the City of Bombay Municipal Act 1888, which in effect gave the Municipality power to carry water mains for the purposes of water supply through, across or under any street and ‘into, through or under any land whatsoever within the city.’
Held: The Privy Council allowed the appeal against the decision of the High Court of Bombay that the Crown was bound by the legislation in question.
‘The general principle to be applied in considering whether or not the Crown is bound by general words in a statute is not in doubt. The maxim of the law in early times was that no statute bound the Crown unless the Crown was expressly named therein, ‘Roy n’est lie par ascun statute si il ne soit expressement nosme.’ But the rule so laid down is subject to at least one exception. The Crown may be bound, as has often been said, ‘by necessary implication’. If, that is to say, it is manifest from the very terms of the statute, that it was the intention of the legislature that the Crown should be bound, then the result is the same as if the Crown had been expressly named. It must then be inferred that the Crown, by assenting to the law, agreed to be bound by its provisions.’
Lord Du Parcq rejected the contention on behalf of the Respondent that, whenever a statute is enacted ‘for the public good’, the Crown, although not expressly named, must be held to be bound by its provisions and that, as the Act in question was manifestly intended to secure the public welfare, it must bind the Crown. Every statute must be supposed to be ‘for the public good’, at least in intention, and even when it is apparent that one object of the legislature is to promote the welfare and convenience of a large body of the King’s subjects by giving extensive powers to a local authority, it cannot be said that the Crown is necessarily bound by the enactment.
‘Their Lordships prefer to say that the apparent purpose of the statute is one element, and may be an important element to be considered when an intention to bind the Crown is alleged. If it can be confirmed that, at the time when the statute was passed and received the Royal sanction, it was apparent from its terms that its beneficent purpose must be wholly frustrated unless the Crown were bound, then it may be inferred that the Crown has agreed to be bound. Their Lordships will add that when the Court is asked to draw this inference, it must always be remembered that, if it be the intention of the legislature that the Crown shall be bound, nothing is easier than to say so in plain words.’


Lord Du Parcq


[1946] UKPC 41, [1947] LJR 380, [1947] AC 58, 62 TLR 643




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedBlack, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice Admn 5-Mar-2015
The serving prisoner said that new general restrictions on smoking in public buildings applied also in prisons. were a breach of his human rights. The only spaces where prisoners were allowed now to smoke were their cells, and he would share cells . .
CitedSecretary of State for Justice v Black CA 8-Mar-2016
The Secretary of State appealed against a declaration that the provisions prohibiting smoking in pubic places applied in prisons.
Held: The appeal succeeded. . .
CitedBlack, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 19-Dec-2017
The Court was asked whether the Crown is bound by the prohibition of smoking in most enclosed public places and workplaces, contained in Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Health Act 2006.
Held: However reluctantly, the claimant’s appeal was . .
CitedLord Advocate v Dumbarton District Council HL 1989
The House was asked whether the Ministry of Defence was entitled to cone off a section of the A814 road without the permission of the roads authority under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 or the local planning authority under the Town and Country . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 27 November 2022; Ref: scu.447971