Crown Proceedings Act 1947

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1947 c. 44


Crown Proceedings Act , 1947.

(10 & 11 Geo. 6.) 44.

An Act to amend the law relating to the civil liabilities and rights of the Crown and to civil proceedings by and against the Crown, to amend the law relating to the civil liabilities of persons other than the Crown in certain cases involving the affairs or property of the Crown, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

[31st July 1947]

B e it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Substantive Law.

Part I.

Substantive Law.

S-1 Right to sue the Crown.

1 Right to sue the Crown.

Where any person has a claim against the Crown after the commencement of this Act, and, if this Act had not been passed, the claim might have been enforced, subject to the grant of His Majesty's fiat, by petition of right, or might have been enforced by a proceeding provided by any statutory provision repealed by this Act, then, subject to the provisions of this Act, the claim may be enforced as of right, and without the fiat of His Majesty, by proceedings taken against the Crown for that purpose in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

S-2 Liability of the Crown in tort.

2 Liability of the Crown in tort.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Crown shall be subject to all those liabilities in tort to which, if it were a private person of full age and capacity, it would be subject:—

( a ) in respect of torts committed by its servants or agents;

( b ) in respect of any breach of those duties which a person owes to his servants or agents at common law by reason of being their employer; and

( c ) in respect of any breach of the duties attaching at common law to the ownership, occupation, possession or control of property:

Provided that no proceedings shall lie against the Crown by virtue of paragraph ( a ) of this subsection in respect of any act or omission of a servant or agent of the Crown unless the act or omission would apart from the provisions of this Act have given rise to a cause of action in tort against that servant or agent or his estate.

(2) Where the Crown is bound by a statutory duty which is binding also upon persons other than the Crown and its officers, then, subject to the provisions of this Act, the Crown shall, in respect of a failure to comply with that duty, be subject to all those liabilities in tort (if any) to which it would be so subject if it were a private person of full age and capacity.

(3) Where any functions are conferred or imposed upon an officer of the Crown as such either by any rule of the common law or by statute, and that officer commits a tort while performing or purporting to perform those functions, the liabilities of the Crown in respect of the tort shall be such as they would have been if those functions had been conferred or imposed solely by virtue of instructions lawfully given by the Crown.

(4) Any enactment which negatives or limits the amount of the liability of any Government department or officer of the Crown in respect of any tort committed by that department or officer shall, in the case of proceedings against the Crown under this section in respect of a tort committed by that department or officer, apply in relation to the Crown as it would have applied in relation to that department or officer if the proceedings against the Crown had been proceedings against that department or officer.

(5) No proceedings shall lie against the Crown by virtue of this section in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by any person while discharging or purporting to discharge any responsibilities of a judicial nature vested in him, or any responsibilities which he has in connection with the execution of judicial process.

(6) No proceedings shall lie against the Crown by virtue of this section in respect of any act, neglect or default of any officer of the Crown, unless that officer has been directly or indirectly appointed by the Crown and was at the material time paid in respect of his duties as an officer of the Crown wholly out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, moneys provided by Parliament, the Road Fund, or any other Fund certified by the Treasury for the purposes of this subsection or was at the material time holding an office in respect of which the Treasury certify that the holder thereof would normally be so paid.

S-3 Provisions as to industrial property.

3 Provisions as to industrial property.

(1) Where after the commencement of this Act any servant or agent of the Crown infringes a patent, or infringes a registered trade mark, or infringes any copyright (including any copyright in a design subsisting under the Patents and Designs Acts, 1907 to 1946), and the infringement is committed with the authority of the Crown, then, subject to the provisions of this Act, civil proceedings in respect of the infringement shall lie against the Crown.

(2) Nothing in the preceding subsection or in any other provision of this Act shall affect the rights of any Government department under section twenty-nine or section fifty-eight A of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907 , or the rights of the Minister of Supply under section twelve of the Atomic Energy Act, 1946 .

(3) Save as expressly provided by this section, no proceedings shall lie against the Crown by virtue of this Act in respect of the infringement of a patent, in respect of the infringement of a registered trade mark, or in respect of the infringement of any such copyright as is mentioned in subsection (1) of this section.

S-4 Application of law as to indemnity, contribution, joint and several tortfeasors, and contributory negligence.

4 Application of law as to indemnity, contribution, joint and several tortfeasors, and contributory negligence.

(1) Where the Crown is subject to any liability by virtue of this Part of this Act, the law relating to indemnity and contribution shall be enforceable by or against the Crown in respect of the liability to which it is so subject as if the Crown were a private person of full age and capacity.

(2) Without prejudice to the effect of the preceding subsection, Part II of the Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act, 1935 (which relates to proceedings against, and contribution between, joint and several tortfeasors) shall bind the Crown.

(3) Without prejudice to the general effect of section one of this Act, the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act, 1945 (which amends the law relating to contributory negligence) shall bind the Crown.

S-5 Liability in respect of Crown ships, &c.

5 Liability in respect of Crown ships, &c.

(1) The provisions of the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1940, which limit the amount of the liability of the owners of ships shall, with any necessary modifications, apply for the purpose of limiting the liability of His Majesty in respect of His Majesty's ships; and any provision of the said Acts which relates to or is ancillary to or consequential on the provisions so applied shall have effect accordingly.

(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of the preceding subsection, where a ship is built at any port or place within His Majesty's dominions, and His Majesty is interested in her by reason of the fact that she is built by or on behalf of or to the order of His Majesty in right of His Government in the United Kingdom, the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1940, which limit the amount of the liability of the owners of ships shall, with any necessary modifications, apply for the purpose of limiting the liabilities in respect of that ship of His Majesty, her builders, her owners, and any other persons interested in her; and any provision of the said Acts which relates to or is ancillary to or consequential on the provisions so applied shall have effect accordingly.

This subsection shall have effect only in respect of the period from and including the launching of the ship until the time of her completion, and shall not in any event have effect in respect of any period during which His Majesty is not so interested in the ship as aforesaid. In relation to a ship built to the order of His Majesty in right of His Government in the United Kingdom, the time of her completion shall be taken for the purposes of this subsection to be the time when His Majesty, acting in His said right, finally takes delivery of her under the building contract.

(3) Where any ship has been demised or sub-demised by His Majesty acting in right of His Government in the United Kingdom, then, whether or not the ship is registered for the purposes of the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1940, the provisions of those Acts which limit the amount of the liability of the owners of ships shall,...

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