The Law Lords by Alan Paterson (auth.)

By Alan Paterson (auth.)

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Thus Roger Parker QC, who in Anisminic v. Foreign Compensation Commission and in the Jones' case had requested that the 1966 Practice Statement be invoked, was to be found hinting a few months later in Cassell v. Broome that the Practice Statement was possibly invalid. 59 Parker was not alone, for although the overwhelming majority of counsel interviewed considered that the Statement should be invoked very sparingly, the frequency with which the Law Lords have been asked to overrule a previous decision of the House has been startling.

Baker'. 47 (The essence of the criticism was that the courts by their rigid application of the doctrine laid down in Scott v. 48) Yet, to the evident dismay of the Law Lords, counsel for the prosecution (the appellant) announced that he felt unable to question the correctness of the decision in Scott's case and declined to argue against it. In the event, the Law Lords (though some with better grace than others) indicated that the failure of counsel to argue the point precluded them from expressing an opinion as to whether Scott v.

Baker in Spicer v. Holt, the Law Lords to their evident chagrin, found themselves unable to overrule it. An equally irritating situation for a Law Lord arises when the judgements of the Court of Appeal in the instant case contain propositions of law which the Law Lord considers mistaken and misleading, yet neither counsel in the Lords relies on them or attacks them. Here the House is caught in a conflict between the expectation concerning counsel's arguments on the one hand and the expectation held by the Law Lords that they ought to provide guidance to the lower courts.

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