Abolishing Obsolete Crown Prerogatives Relating to: Martial Law, Conscription and Billeting

  •  Graham McBain    


This article indicates that there are various rights, or privileges, of the Crown (so - called ‘Crown prerogatives’) which still exist under English law and which are at variance with modern society and human rights. Indeed, one would assert the Crown prerogative is the biggest impediment in English based legal systems to an extension of human rights at present, since it is so ample in scope and yet so indeterminate in nature.

This article argues that martial law - that is, the right of the Crown to apply military law to civilians (which often resulted in their summary trial and execution in past rebellions) - should be abolished. It is unnecessary and contrary to modern human rights. Also abolished should be the right of the Crown to billet members of the armed forces on the public - now governed by legislation. Finally, the Crown prerogative to forcibly conscript able-bodied male subjects into the army and navy should be abolished. It was replaced by legislation during World War I and II since it was thought to be too uncertain, legally.

In conclusion, if these Crown prerogatives were abolished throughout the Commonwealth it would remove much old law and help human rights. It would also allow legislation enacted by Parliament to cover the field, as and when required in the case of martial law.

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