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The Australian National University

Democracy, Liberty and the Prerogative: The Displacement of Inherent Executive Power by Statute

Benjamin B Saunders (2013) 41 (2)

This article analyses arguments that the prerogative should be readily displaced by statute, where a statute deals with a subject matter similar to a prerogative. It does so by examining the leading cases on displacement of the prerogative in the United Kingdom and the Australian states, and displacement of the Australian Commonwealth’s inherent executive power. The cases do not adopt a single rule but the question of whether a statute will be taken to displace a prerogative is highly dependent on the facts and the provisions of the particular statute. This article defends the current approach to displacement, for three reasons. First, the courts do not allow governments to subvert or ignore statutes by using the prerogative. Secondly, the courts have almost always decided in favour of liberty and against the conferral of coercive powers on government. Thirdly, a single rule could not do justice to all the variables involved in displacement cases. Ordinary principles of statutory interpretation are sufficient to deal with questions of displacement.

Vol 41, Issue 2, 2013

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