Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2008] All ER (D) 224 (Jun)
Neutral Citation: [2008] EWHC 1354 (Admin)
Court: Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court

Wyn Williams J

Representation David Pannick QC and Jessica Simor (instructed by Withers LLP Solicitors) for the claimants
  Jonathan Crow QC and Ben Hooper (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the defendants.
  The interested parties did not attend and were not represented.
Judgment Dates: 18 June 2008


Elections - Parliamentary - Validity - Constitutionary reform on Island of Sark - Retention of Seigneur and Seneschal as members of Chief Pleas - Prohibition of 'aliens' being elected as Conseillers - Whether claimants' human right to a fair and democratic legislature violated - European Convention on Human Rights, arts 6, 14, First Protocol, art 3.

The Case

The rights conferred under art 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights were not absolute and applied only to the election of the 'legislature', or at least one of its chambers if it had two or more. The word 'legislature' did not necessarily mean only the national parliament, however; it had to be interpreted in the light of the constitutional structure of the state in question, which had a wide margin of appreciation. Moreover, a contracting state was entitled to decide that its electorate should be citizens only, and, in that event, there could be no objection if it also decided that only its citizens could stand for election. On that basis there was no reason why a contracting state could not decide to permit a non-citizen to vote, but determine that such a person could not stand for election, without putting itself in breach of art3. It followed that the claimants application to review the Royal assent to two laws promoted by Chief Pleas of Sark, namely the Reform (Sark) Law 2008 (the Reform Law), and the Real Property (transfer Tax, Charging and Related Provisions) (Sark) Law 2007, was dismissed as Chief Pleas had been entitled to retain the Seigneur and the Seneschal as members and continue the dual role of the Seneschal as judge and President of Chief Pleas, as well as prohibit 'aliens', within the meaning of the Reform Law, from being elected for Conseillers. Such decisions were within contracting states margin of appreciation and they could not be said to violate art3 of the First Protocol to, and arts6 and 14 of, the Convention.

Practice Areas

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