Dr Bonham's Case and ‘void’ statutes

  title={Dr Bonham's Case and ‘void’ statutes},
  author={Ian Williams},
  journal={The Journal of Legal History},
  pages={111 - 128}
  • Ian Williams
  • Published 1 August 2006
  • Law
  • The Journal of Legal History
There are two opinions on Coke's remarks in Dr Bonham's Case concerning ‘void’ statutes. Firstly that Coke was assuming a power to declare statutes void as incompatible with some form of higher order law; secondly that Coke was merely asserting a power to interpret statutes. This article suggests that the range of meanings of the word ‘void’ in early-modern English law undermines the foundations of the first position, and that there is no good evidence suggesting a natural law position. Coke's… 
11 Citations
Parliamentary Sovereignty: The myth of the common law constitution
Introduction The relationship between the common law and statute law is a subject of debate. The controversy goes deeper than questions of interpretation, such as – given the doctrine of legislative
English Law Under Two Elizabeths
Comparative legal history is generally understood to involve the comparison of legal systems in different countries. This is an experiment in a different kind of comparison. The legal world of the
Sir Edward Coke and the Reformation of the Laws: Religion, Politics and Jurisprudence, 1578-1616
1. Introduction 2. Uncertainty and the reformation of the laws 3. 'The most dangerous oppressor': the misuse of the law 4. Confidence and corruption: the law in the Fens 5. Identity and narratives of
Parliamentary Sovereignty: Challenging parliamentary sovereignty: Past, present and future
Introduction Some critics portray the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty as a myth that conceals the true nature of constitutionalism in Britain and other common law jurisdictions. In reality,
Parliamentary Sovereignty: Contemporary Debates
1. Introduction 2. The myth of the common law constitution 3. Legislative sovereignty and the rule of law 4. Homogenising constitutions 5. Abdicating and limiting Parliament's sovereignty 6.
The Growth of the English Rule of Law
The following is a work in progress and will be Chapter 2 of a book entitled “The Rule of Law, Economic Development, & Corporate Governance.” The first chapter will be an introduction to the major
On the (Un)Changing Judge Icons and Their Creators: On Deborah, Coke and Montesquieu, Posner and Barak, and Some Others
Rule of Law: Historical (Theoretical) Perspectives
  • Michihiro Kaino
  • Law
    Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy
  • 2020


Against Common Right and Reason
    Coke therefore seems to be aware that his reasoning may lead to the statute never being applied in its anticipated form
      Bonham's Case
        Absolute Monarchy, 186. In such an argument, there is also the possibility that Coke deliberately included the word 'void' as a studied ambiguity
          The Case of the City of London (1609) 8 Co. Rep. 126a (emphasis added)
            Bonham's Case Reviewed', 51; Rousewell v Ivory (1618) Trin. 16 J. 1, per Crewe Sjt
              The Equity of a Statute and Heydon's Case', 31 Illinois Law Review
              • 1936