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Legal obligation on the government.

Legal obligation on the government.

Postby Hairyloon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:46 pm

What would happen if a court ruled that the government had to do something, and that thing required a vote in parliament?
The obvious answer is that if the law says that it must be done, then it is probably sensible to do it, and parliament could debate it and vote it through just because it is right.
But what if they didn't?
Presumably they could change the law so they didn't have to do that thing, but would they be in contempt of court until they did so?
Would that matter?
The court could fine them for it, but that would just mean they take taxpayer's money out of one pocket and put it into another...
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:53 am

If a court rules that in order to do X the Government must do Y, then until Y is done then X cannot be done, and everyone is entitled to treat X as not having been done even if the Government purports to do so. For example, if X is serving some kind of notice, then the notice has not been served and the recipient may ignore it: this is particularly true if there happens to be some kind of rule stating that the Government must serve that notice in accordance with their constitutional requirements.

However, if the court rules that the Government cannot do X without Parliamentary authority, then passing an Act of Parliament authorising you to do X is, in fact, complying with the court order.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby atticus » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:10 am

A court is unlikely to make a ruling of the kind described.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby shootist » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:16 am

A court is unlikely to convict an innocent man.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby atticus » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:30 am

As dls has said countless times, the Administrative Court looks at the process by which the decision of a public body is made. It does not say what the decision must be. It can quash a decision and direct that the decision-making process be retaken.

The Supreme Court will shortly rule whether Parliament must authorise the giving of notice to leave the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It will not rule that such notice must be given.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:12 pm

Thank you all for answering a question that was not asked.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby atticus » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:21 pm

It is usually asked later.
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby dls » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:35 pm

What would happen if a court ruled that the government had to do something, and that thing required a vote in parliament?

That would not happen.
Ask yourself in what form such an order could be made?
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:08 pm

dls wrote:
What would happen if a court ruled that the government had to do something, and that thing required a vote in parliament?

That would not happen.
Ask yourself in what form such an order could be made?

That is a better way of asking the original question.
If the law says that something needs to happen within a certain time, and only parliament can make that thing happen, then how can that law be enforced?
Clearly a court can be asked if the law does actually say that that thing needs to happen, but if it does, then what order can the court make?
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Re: Legal obligation on the government.

Postby dls » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:04 pm

I do not think you are getting it.

If the law says that something needs to happen within a certain time, and only parliament can make that thing happen, then how can that law be enforced?


Well, the law would not allow itself to get into that position. What are you surmising might give rise to such a situation.

Clearly a court can be asked if the law does actually say that that thing needs to happen, but if it does, then what order can the court make?


Clearly a court can be asked anything, but there are only a range of answers it can give - including in this case a clear refusal to make any such order.
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