USIHS Lecture: Dr Coleman Dennehy

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 25th April 2017 at the Institute of Irish Studies (QUB) Seminar Room, 8 Fitzwilliam St, at 6.30pm

[Please note revised date and venue]

Dr Coleman Dennehy (UCD/UCL)

will speak on:

‘Contending Appellate Jurisdictions: Westminster v Dublin in the 17th and 18th Centuries’

Irish HL 1704


In Spring 1720, the British parliament, by means of statute law, accused the Irish lords having ‘of late, against law, assumed to themselves a power and jurisdiction to examine, correct, and amend the judgements and decrees of the courts of justice’ in that kingdom. There was great upset in Ireland at this instance, as it was obviously a constitutional attack on the status of the Irish parliament; however it was also bad history. Both the Irish and English / British parliaments had for many centuries given final judgments on Irish cases, and, for the most part, this shared appellate judicial authority had passed off without incident. Whilst there was political fallout in the aftermath of Ward v Meath, Annesley v Sherlock, and Ulster Society v Derry, these were the exception rather than the norm.

This paper will be an examination of the long process of how two separate courts could claim the same status as final court of appeal without, for the most part, any substantial difficulty. It will also ascertain how the cases were handled, if they were typical of other cases coming before the English / British parliament, and whether the passing of the 1720 Declaratory Act made any material difference to the manner of Irish cases being heard in the final instance, or indeed the rate at which they appeared.




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