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The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (28 & 29 Vict. c. 63). Its long title is "An Act to remove Doubts as to the Validity of Colonial Laws".

The purpose of the Act was to remove any apparent inconsistency between local (colonial) and British ("imperial") legislation. Thus it confirmed that colonial legislation (provided it had been passed in the proper manner) was to have full effect within the colony, limited only to the extent that it was in contradiction with ("repugnant to") any Act of Parliament that contained powers which extended beyond the boundaries of England to include that colony. This had the effect of strengthening the position of colonial legislatures, while at the same time restating their ultimate subordination to the Westminster Parliament.

Until the passage of the Act, a number of colonial statutes had been struck down by local judges on the grounds of repugnancy to English laws (whether or not those English laws had been intended by Parliament to be effective in the colony). This had been a particular problem for the government in South Australia, where Justice Benjamin Boothby had struck down local statutes on numerous occasions in the colony's Supreme Court.

By the mid-1920s it was accepted by the British government that the dominions would have full legislative autonomy. This was given legislative effect in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster, which repealed the application of the Colonial Laws Validity Act to the dominions (i.e. Canada, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the Union of South Africa).

The Statute of Westminster took effect in Australia in 1942 with the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, with retroactive effect to September 3, 1939, the start of World War II. The Colonial Laws Validity Act continued to have application in individual Australian states until the Australia Act came into effect in 1986.

The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947 adopted the Statute of Westminster in New Zealand.

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865
←Indexes: Constitutional documents of Canada


  • Short title of this Act was enacted by the Short Titles Act 1896

28 & 29 Victoria, c. 63 (U.K.)

An Act to remove Doubts as to the Validity of Colonial Laws.

[Assented to 29th June, 1865.]

Whereas Doubts have been entertained respecting the Validity of divers laws enacted or purporting to have been enacted by the Legislatures of certain of Her Majesty's Colonies and respecting the Powers of such Legislatures and it is expedient that such Doubts should be removed: Be it hereby enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same as follows:

Definitions "Colony:"
1. The Term "Colony" shall in this Act include all of Her Majesty 's Possessions abroad in which there shall exist a Legislature as hereinafter defined, except the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and such Territories as may for the Time being be vested in Her Majesty under or by virtue of any Act of Parliament for the Government of India:

Legislature. Colonial Legislature:
The terms "legislature" and "colonial legislature" shall severally signify the authority, other than the Imperial Parliament or Her Majesty in Council, competent to make laws for any colony:

Representative Legislature:
The term "representative legislature" shall signify any colonial legislature which shall comprise a legislative body of which one half are elected by inhabitants of the colony:

Colonial Law:
The term "colonial law" shall include laws made for any colony either by such legislature as aforesaid or by Her Majesty in Council:

Act of Parliament, &c. to extend to colony when made applicable to such colony:
An Act of Parliament, or any provision thereof, shall, in construing this Act, be said to extend to any colony when it is made applicable to such colony by the express words or necessary intendment of any Act of Parliament:

The term "governor" shall mean the officer lawfully administering the government of any colony:

Letters patent.
The term "letters patent" shall mean letters patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Colonial law when void for repugnancy.
2. Any colonial law which is or shall be in any respect repugnant to the provisions of any Act of Parliament extending to the colony to which such law may relate, or repugnant to any order or regulation made under authority of such Act of Parliament, or having in the colony the force and effect of such Act, shall be read subject to such Act, order, or regulation, and shall, to the extent of such repugnancy, but not otherwise, be and remain absolutely void and inoperative.

Colonial law when not void for repugnancy.
3. No colonial law shall be or be deemed to have been void or inoperative on the ground of repugnancy to the law of England, unless the same shall be repugnant to the provisions of some such Act of Parliament, order, or regulation as aforesaid.

Colonial law not void for inconsistency with instructions.
4. No colonial law passed with the occurrence of or assented to by the governor of any colony, or to be hereafter so passed or assented to, shall be or be deemed to have been void or inoperative by reason only of any instructions with reference to such law or the subject thereof which may have been given to such governor by or on behalf of Her Majesty, by any instrument other than the letters patent or instrument authorizing such governor to concur in passing or to assent to laws for the peace, order, and good government of such colony, even though such instructions may be referred to in such letters patent or last-mentioned instrument.

Colonial legislatures may establish, &c. courts of law.
5. Every colonial legislature shall have, and be deemed at all times to have had, full power within its jurisdiction to establish courts of judicature, and to abolish and reconstitute the same, and to alter the constitution thereof, and to make provision for the administration of justice therein;
Representative legislature may alter constitution.
and every representative legislature shall, in respect to the colony under its jurisdiction, have, and be deemed at all times to have had, full power to make laws respecting the constitution, powers, and procedure of such legislature; provided that such laws shall have been passed in such manner and form as may from time to time be required by any Act of Parliament, letters patent, Order in Council, or colonial law for the time being in force in the said colony.

Certified copies of laws to be evidence that they are properly passed.
6. The certificate of the clerk or other proper officer of a legislative body in any colony to the effect that the document to which it is attached is a true copy of any colonial law assented to by the governor of such colony, or of any Bill reserved for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure by the said governor, shall be prima facie evidence that the document so certified is a true copy of such law or Bill, and, as the case may be, that such law has been duly and properly passed and assented to, or that such Bill has been duly and properly passed and presented to the governor;
Proclamation to be evidence of assent and disallowance.
and any proclamation purporting to be published by authority of the governor in any newspaper in the colony to which such law or Bill shall relate, and signifying Her Majesty’s disallowance of any such colonial law, or Her Majesty’s assent to any such reserved Bill as aforesaid, shall be prima facie evidence of such disallowance or assent. And whereas doubts are entertained respecting the validity of certain Acts enacted or reputed to be enacted by the legislature of South Australia:

Validation of Acts
7. All Laws or reputed Laws enacted or purporting to have been enacted by the said Legislature, or by Persons or Bodies of Persons for the Time being acting as such Legislature, which have received the Assent of Her Majesty in Council, or which have received the Assent of the Governor of the said Colony in the Name and on behalf of Her Majesty, shall be and be deemed to have been valid and effectual from the Date of such Assent for all Purposes whatever; provided that nothing herein contained shall be deemed to give Effect to any Law or reputed Law which has been disallowed by Her Majesty, or has expired, or has been lawfully repealed, or to prevent the lawful Disallowance or Repeal of any Law.

Her Majesty's Government Coat of Arms.svg This work is in the public domain worldwide because the work was created by a public body of the United Kingdom with Crown Status and commercially published prior to 1960.

See Crown copyright artistic works, Crown copyright non-artistic works and List of Public Bodies with Crown Status.


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