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Ellen Street Estates Ltd v Minster of Health [1934] 1 KB 590

Doctrine of implied repeal applied in case concerning compulsory purchase


The appellant purchased various properties in Ellen Street, London. Shortly thereafter, the properties were compulsorily acquired by the local authority for an improvement scheme. However, the powers of compulsory acquisition lapsed in relation to the properties and the local authority was required to make a new order.


The order was granted for the second time in favour of the local authority. The appellant argued that the second order was invalid because its effect, together with section 46 of the Housing Act 1925, was inconsistent with the provisions of an earlier Act of Parliament: the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919. The appellants argued that the 1925 Act did not expressly repeal the 1919 Act and, moreover, the doctrine of implied repeal should not be recognised. It thereby followed that the 1925 Act was invalid and never had statutory force.


The appellants argument in relation to implied repeal was rejected and the appeal dismissed. The established constitutional position is that Parliament can alter an Act previously passed, and it can do so by repealing the previous Act, or by enacting a provision which is clearly inconsistent with the previous Act. Scrutton L.J. referred to academic discussion of previous cases in which Parliament had enacted a provision which was inconsistent with a previous provision, without using the word “repeal.” Maugham L.J. added that the constitution does not permit Parliament to bind itself as to the form of subsequent legislation. Effect was therefore required to be given to the will of the legislature in relation to the later statute i.e. the 1925 Act.

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