Catalogue description Court of Common Pleas and Supreme Court of Judicature: High Court of Justice, Common Pleas and King's Bench Division, Masters' Secretary's Department: Parliamentary and Municipal Petitions.

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Details of J 104
Reference: J 104
Title: Court of Common Pleas and Supreme Court of Judicature: High Court of Justice, Common Pleas and King's Bench Division, Masters' Secretary's Department: Parliamentary and Municipal Petitions.
Description:

These are petitions under the Parliamentary Elections Act 1868 and subsequent legislation questioning the validity of elections. Petitions were presented to the Court of Common Pleas and, from November 1875, to the Common Pleas Division of the High Court of Justice until 1881, from which date they were presented to the Queen's Bench Division. The series also contains certain related records including a random sample of applications from various persons to the High Court for relief from penalties for infringements of electoral law.

Date: 1868-2009
Arrangement:

Pieces are arranged in numerical order. Description of pieces under headings (Parliamentary or Municipal) begin with the constituency, followed by the petitioner then respondent.

Related material:

Home Office entry books of the shorthand writers' notes of the proceedings and of the judgements of election courts are in:

HO 53

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 845 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

Supreme Court of Judicature , from 1974

Accruals: Series is accruing
Administrative / biographical background:

The House of Commons exercised the exclusive right of deciding upon the validity of all elections to its own body. The right was exercised by Statute until 1770 when the Grenville Act delegated decisions to select committees of the house. The right of deciding upon the validity of Parliamentary elections remained so until the Parliamentary Elections Act 1868 when the jurisdiction of the House of Commons to decide was transferred to the courts of law. The 1868 Act was repealed by the Representation of the People Act 1949 and the current practice is governed by the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Former procedure for the questioning of municipal elections consisted of a writ of quo warranto, until the method of petitioning was introduced under the Corrupt Practices (Municipal Elections) Act 1872. This act was repealed by the Local Government Act 1933 which in turn was superseded by the Representation of the People Act 1949.

The grounds for questioning both Parliamentary and municipal elections are the same:

  • general bribery, treating, undue influence, or personation;
  • corrupt practices or offences against Part IV of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 committed at the election;
  • that the person whose election is questioned was at the time of the election disqualified;
  • that he/she was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes;
  • that the election was avoided by an illegal practice or by extensive illegal practices
.

An election petition can be presented to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice by four or more persons who voted or had a right to vote at the election or by a person alleging himself to have been a candidate at the election. The trial of a parliamentary petition is before two judges in the constituency, unless otherwise ordered, whilst the trial of a municipal petition is before a commissioner in the constituency where the election was held. In either case the parties may agree that the petition be disposed of by way of a special case, in which event the hearing of the special case is treated as the trial of a petition before two judges on the election petitions rota sitting as an election divisional court.

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