Privy Council


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Privy Council

The Privy Council is the British Crown's private council. It is composed of more than three hundred members, including cabinet members, distinguished scholars, judges, and legislators. Once a powerful body, it has lost most of the judicial and political functions it exercised since the middle of the seventeenth century and has largely been replaced by the Cabinet.

The Privy Council derived from the King's Council, which was created during the Middle Ages. In 1540 the Privy Council came into being as a small executive committee that advised the king and administered the government. It advised the sovereign on affairs of state and the exercise of the royal prerogative. It implemented its power through royal proclamations, orders, instructions, and informal letters, and also by giving directions to and receiving reports from the judges who traveled the circuits, hearing cases in cities and towns, twice a year. It concerned itself with public order and security, the economy, public works, public authorities and corporations, local government, Ireland, the Channel Islands, the colonies, and foreign affairs.

The inner circle of advisers in the Privy Council met in the royal chamber or cabinet and was therefore called the cabinet council. In the eighteenth century, the cabinet became the council for the prime minister, the leader of Parliament. The United States adopted the cabinet idea, though its legal status is not identified in the Constitution. Cabinet members are presidential advisers who serve as Executive Branch department heads.

The power of the Privy Council disappeared between 1645 and 1660 during the English Civil War and the government of Oliver Cromwell. It never recovered its former position. Long policy debates shifted to Parliament, and important executive decisions went to committees. In modern days members of the Privy Council rarely meet as a group, delegating their work to committees.

The lord president of the council, who is a member of the cabinet, is the director of the Privy Council Office. The most important committee is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which comprises all members of the council who have held high judicial office. Usually, however, three to five Lords of Appeal sit to hear appeals from the United Kingdom, the British Crown colonies, and members of the Commonwealth. The committee does not give a judgment but prepares a report to the sovereign, and its decision may be implemented in an Order in Council. The work of the committee has diminished because it rarely hears ecclesiastical appeals and because many Commonwealth countries have abolished the right of appeal.

Further readings

Lehrfreund, Saul. 1999. "The Death Penalty and the Continuing Role of the Privy Council." New Law Journal (August 20).

Owen, D.H.O. 1992. "The Privy Council and the Professional Foul." Medico-Legal Journal 60 (spring).

Cross-references

Curia Regis.

See: bench

Privy Council (PC)

the great council of state comprising the sovereign and the councillors. Councillors are addressed as ‘The Right Honourable’. The cabinet discharges the advice function, and a judicial committee sits as the highest court of appeal for some Commonwealth states such as New Zealand and formerly for Canada and Australia. It now has power to adjudicate on certain aspects of devolution, notably under the Scotland Act 1998 and to declare legislation incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998.

PRIVY COUNCIL, Eng. law. A council of state composed of the king and of such persons as he may select.

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Since it did not contain an amendment provision, "it must have been intended to have more flexibility than an ordinary statute." (29) At this point, O'Connor cited the "living tree" metaphor from Edwards (30) in conjunction with dicta from the Privy Council's decision in British Coal Corporation and others v.
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This is why I resigned in protest from the Privy Council.
This article examines the discourse in the Clerk of the Privy Council's annual reports in two ways.
The Muslim community of India regarded the decision of the Privy Council as interference in Mohammadan Law.
After hearing a day-and-a-half of legal submissions last month, the Privy Council, sitting at London's Supreme Court on Parliament Square, rejected his appeal that the police's actions amounted to an "abuse of process."
BEIRUT: Canada will contribute $1 million to help organize the sixth Francophone Games, which will take place in Beirut from September 27 to October 6, according to an announcement Thursday by Josee Verner, of intergovernmental affairs minister, president of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and francophone minister.
The collection includes Foreign, Scotland, Borders and Ireland papers for the 16th century as well as the Registers of the Privy Council for the whole of the Tudor period, providing an insight into some of the most important international historic events and themes from 1509 to 1603.
But, during the course of the judgment, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council came close to declaring that pre-nups should have the full force of the law behind them, and claimed that was an issue for the Government.
The evidence offered for it is two Privy Council orders, of 1598 and 1600 which, Gurr claims, were a "reaffirmation" of the 1594 deal.
However, he appealed against the severity of the punishment to the only possible authority, the Privy Council, and in November had the judgement overturned, and substituted with six months' suspension.
However, its gestation dates back to 1901 when an editorial published in the Jamaican Gleaner suggested the need for a regional court of last resort to replace the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which was the final court of appeals for all the Commonwealth Caribbean countries before their independence from the United Kingdom.