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Government of Wales Act 2006

Legal issues

Section 41: Proceedings by or against Assembly etc.

189.This section makes provision in relation to legal proceedings by and against the Assembly.

190.Where proceedings are brought by or against the Assembly these are to be instituted by or against the Assembly Commission. Proceedings by or against the Presiding Officer, the Deputy Presiding Officer or any member of the staff of the Assembly are to be brought by or against the Assembly Commission on their behalf.

191.Where proceedings are brought against the Assembly the court may not grant a mandatory, prohibiting or quashing order or an injunction or make an order for specific performance. It may instead make a declaration.

192.A similar restriction applies to such remedies in legal proceedings against any Assembly member, the Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officers, members of the staff of the Assembly or the Assembly Commission, if the effect of granting such a remedy would be to give relief against the Assembly which could not be given against the Assembly itself. This is intended to prevent the protection for the Assembly being circumvented by taking action instead against individual members or office-holders. The approach is similar to that taken in section 21(2) of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947.

193.The protection would not extend to proceedings taken against Assembly members arising for example out of their constituency work, since remedies granted in such proceedings would not be equivalent to remedies granted against the Assembly itself.

194.The effect of the equivalent provision in Scotland (section 40(4) of the Scotland Act 1998) was considered by the Scottish Court of Session in Whaley v Lord Watson of Invergowrie 2000 SLT 475 where it was held that it did not prevent an interdict (equivalent to an injunction) being granted against a MSP from introducing a Bill on the grounds that he would thereby be breaching some provision of the Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Members’ Interests) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1350). As the Lord President stated at page 482:

“… the subsection does not bar a remedy against a member simply because it may have some consequential effects on the working of the Parliament: the bar applies only where the interdict against the member would have the effect of granting relief, i.e. a legal remedy, against the Parliament.

195.Subsection (5) provides that the prohibition on certain remedies is not limited to final orders. So, for example, it would prohibit the granting of an interim injunction against the Assembly (or the Assembly Commission, in so far as it is acting on the Assembly’s behalf).

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