Baron Mereworth v Ministry of Justice

16.27The applicant, a hereditary baron in the peerage of the United Kingdom, sought to challenge a decision of the Crown Office not to issue him a writ of summons to the House of Lords upon succeeding to the peerage, claiming his right on the grounds that the letters patent creating his peerage entitled him to ‘A Seat, Place and Voice in Parliament's Public Assembly and Councils'. The Crown Office withheld the writ on the basis that the House of Lords Act 1999 had altered the rights of hereditary peers to sit in the House, and that if the applicant wished to dispute the decision the proper means to do so was through the Lords Committee for Privileges. The applicant declined to do so and sought declarations from the High Court that the courts have jurisdiction to determine the matter and that he was entitled to demand a writ be issued. Citing Chaytor, the High Court held on the issue of jurisdiction that matters relating to the membership of either House were within the area of Parliament's exclusive cognizance and the court should not interfere except where legislation provided to the contrary. Apart from special cases (such as an Election Court), it was a matter for Parliament whether a person was entitled to sit and vote in either House.1


  1. 1. Baron Mereworth v Ministry of Justice [2011] EWHC 1589 (Ch), [2012] Ch 325, [2012] 2 WLR 192.