Public Law Essay

2447 words - 10 pages

Public Law

Prime facie, this case would seem to be a simple matter regarding the
Weights and Measures Act 1985[1]. However, the defence brings into
their argument, important issues concerning legislative supremacy.
There is a distinct element of constitutional significance to this
case and this is evident from the fact that Lord Justice Law’s
judgement devotes a substantial amount of direction on the issue of
implied repeal and the entrenchment of community law. It is important
to look at the facts of this case and they are fairly simple. The
defendant Mr. Thoburn was a greengrocer in Sunderland. As part of his
business he used weighing equipment to weigh the product he was
providing to his customer. This weighing equipment gave indication in
imperial demarcations, which was contrary to current legislation and
the defendant was given an official warning along with some 28 days to
rectify the violation. The defendant ignored the warning and continued
to use the weighing machines with imperial demarcations. He was
charged with 2 offences and pleaded not guilty on the grounds that his
actions were not contrary to current legislation.

Firstly, let us examine some of the main points in Laws L.J’s
judgement. His lordship highlights the fact that the centrepiece of
the defence’s argument was the Doctrine of Implied Repeal[2]. The
defence contended that the Weights and Measures Act 1985[3] repealed a
section of the European Communities Act 1972[4] and therefore the
later act took precedence over the earlier Act. The defence relied
upon numerous cases in which implied repeal is substantiated and
confirmed such as Vauxhall Estates Ltd v Liverpool Corporation[5] and
also in Ellen Street Estates Ltd v Minister of Health[6]. These two
cases are heavily relied upon by the defence to establish the doctrine
of implied repeal. The point being that in order for Parliamentary
supremacy to be tangible, it must be held that no parliament can bind
another and this is illustrated clearly in the judgements. Justice
Avory, in making his judgement in Vauxhall Estates Ltd v Liverpool
Corporation[7] states:

“….if the two statutes are inconsistent to that extent then the
earlier act is impliedly repealed by the latter.”

Lord Justice Laws recognises the doctrine of implied repeal as an
established part of the operation of our Constitution but his
judgement ultimately sides with the prosecution in this case. The
argument of implied repeal is found to be irrelevant for several
crucial reasons which are highlighted in the judgement. Firstly, the
Common Law has created a class of legislation which cannot be
impliedly repealed and can only be repealed by direct and express
language of statute. The European Communities Act 19728 is one of
these so called ‘constitutional acts’, which are exempt from...

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