Statute of Westminster

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Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster

Statute of Westminster, 1931, 22 Geo V c.4 (UK)

On December 11, 1931, the Statute of Westminister received Royal Assent.  With this Act, the United Kingdom Parliament no longer could pass laws that would extend to Canada (and other Common Wealth nations) without “the request and with the consent of” Canada.   This was another step along the slow path of Canada’s independence.

This Act gave effect to a number of political resolutions (Imperial Conferences of 1926 and 1930), and involved the inapplicability of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, to any law made after the commencement of this Act.

As such, Canada gained legislative independence from the UK, making Canada a sovereign nation, including that:

  • Canada’s laws would no longer be invalid or inoperative if they were repugnant to the law of England;
  • Canada could repeal or amend any previous legislation passed by the UK Parliament that applied to Canada or operated in Canada;
  • Canada could pass laws with extra-territorial operation; but
  • The British North America Acts continued to apply to Canada (including the limitations on the amendment or repeal of the BNA Act).

Canada also gained the ability to abolish appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (Criminal appeals were abolished in 1933 – Criminal Code Amendment Act, S.C. 1932–33, c. 53, s. 17 –  while civil appeals continued until 1949 – Supreme Court Amendment Act, S.C. 1949 (2nd. session), c. 37, s. 3).

The Crown was retained as the symbol of the association of the British Commonwealth of Nations, stating that any amendment to the Laws of Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles would require the consent of the parliaments of all of the Dominions and the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Sas Ansari, BSc BEd PC JD LLM PhD (exp) CPA In-Depth Tax 1, 2 &3

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