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Manuel v Attorney General [1983] Ch 77

The Canada Act 1982 wasfound to be a valid act of the UK Parliament and not ultra vires


The Canada Act 1982 provides for a new procedure for amending the constitution of Canada under which the UK Parliament no longer has any role. Two Canadian Indian Chiefs challenged the 1982 Act as being ultra vires as it was inconsistent with the constitutional safeguards provided for the Indian peoples of Canada by earlier statutes of the UK Parliament.


The plaintiffs sought declarations that certain agreements and collateral warranties made between the British Crown and the Indian peoples would subsist. At first instance, it was held that the 1982 Act was not ultra vires. The plaintiffs appealed.


The appeal was dismissed. An Act of the UK Parliament which affected a Dominion was valid where that Dominion had requested and consented to its enactment. The 1982 Act was valid as the preamble to the Act expressly stated that Canada had requested and consented to the enactment of the Act. The Supreme Court of Canada had held that the constitutional law of Canada required various consents prior to the amendment of the Canadian Constitution. However, this case concerned a matter of English law and the Canadian law had no direct bearing upon the issues to be decided in the case. Furthermore, the Court referred to the case of Pickin v British Railways Board [1974] A.C. 765 in which it was established that the role of the Court is to consider the correct interpretation of an enactment but the Court must not stray into an inquiry into the manner in which Parliament performed its function, or consider whether a particular statute ought to be on the statute book at all.

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