Notes and Articles for Law students

User Tools

Site Tools


Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant

Later laws abrogate prior contrary ones.

The laws of this country are made by Parliament ; that is, by a body composed of Queen, Lords, and Commons ; and what one Parliament can do another can, that is, make laws ; and the abrogation of an existing law is no more than the making of a new law ; and to deny to a Parliament the power to abrogate an existing law is to deny to it the power to make any law.

The power by which laws are made must be supreme, and, if supreme, there can be no limit to its authority. Subsequent laws, therefore, repeal prior laws inconsistent therewith, and that whether they be made by a Parliament composed of the same or of different persons ; that is, the same or a subsequent Parliament, in the same or a subsequent session of Parliament.

The common law and customs of the kingdom are also subservient to Parliament, and are abrogated by its enactments. Statutes begin to operate on the day they receive the Royal assent, unless special provision b'e made in them to the contrary ; and from that day all laws contrary thereto are considered as abrogated thereby.

The following maxim serves to illustrate this subject : “ Perpetua lex est. nullam legem humanam ac positivam perpetuam esse, et clausula quae abrogationem excludit ab initio non valet” — It is an eternal law which says that no human positive law shall be perpetual, and a clause excluding abrogation is bad from the commencement.

Sir William Blackstone says, that where the common and statute law differ, the common law gives place to the statute ; and an old statute gives place to a new one : and this upon a general principle of universal law, that “leges posteriores priores, contrarias abrogant ;” according to which it was laid down by law of the twelve tables at Eome, that “quod populus postreniurn jussit, id jus ratum esto :”' but that that was to be understood only when the latter statute was couched in negative terms, or was so clearly repugnant as necessarily to imply a negative. As, if a former Act said that a juror upon such a trial should have twenty pounds a year, and a new statute enacted that he should have twenty marks ; there the latter statute, though it did not express, yet necessarily implied, a negative, and virtually repealed the former. But, if both statutes were merely affirmative, and the substance of each of them such that both could well stand together, the latter would not repeal the former, but they should both be construed together. So, if by law an offence is made indictable at the quarter sessions, and a subsequent statute makes the same offence indictable at the assizes ; here, the jurisdiction of the sessions is not taken away, but both have a concurrent jurisdiction ; unless the new statute by express words makes the offence indictable at the assizes and not elsewhere.

It is also said that an Act of Parliament cannot be altered, amended, dispensed with, suspended, or repealed, but in the same form and by the same authority of Parliament as that by which it was created ; for it requires the same strength to dissolve as to make this, as well as^any other, legal obligation. And this is in accordance with the common rule of law which holds that, “Nihil tarn conveniens est naturali sequitati quam unumquodque dissolvi eo ligamine quo ligatum est” — Nothing is so consonant to natural equity as that the same thing be dissolved by the same means as that by which it was created.

2 Roll. Rep. 410; 1 Co. 2,5; 11 Co. 63; 1 Bla. Com. 92, 18 ed.; Jenk. Cent. 2 ; 2 Atk. 674 ; Bae. Max. Reg. 19 ; Reg. v. Mayor of London, 13 Q. B. 1 ; Paget v. Foley, 2 Bing. N. C. 679 ; Stuart v. Jones, 1 E. & B. 22 ; Hellawell v. Eastwood, 6 Exoh. 205 ; Rix v. Borton, 12 A. & E. 470 ; Longton v. Hughes, 1 M. & S. 597; Dakins v. Seaman, 9 M. & W. 777; Mahoney v. Wright, 10 Ir. Cora. Law Rep. 420 ; 33 Geo. 3, u . 13 ; 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 28 ; 13 & 14 Viei c. 21 ; Reg. *. Sillem, 11 L. T. (N.S.) 233.

Navigation: Home»Legal Maxims

Created on 2020/10/19 23:15 by • Last modified on 2020/11/07 18:33 (external edit)