Tritonia Ltd v Equity and Law Life Assurance Society

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeThe Lord Chancellor,Lord Clauson
Judgment Date05 August 1943
Judgment citation (vLex)[1943] UKHL J0805-1
Docket NumberNo. 6.
CourtHouse of Lords
Date05 August 1943
Tritonia, Limited and Others
Equity and Law Life Assurance Society

[1943] UKHL J0805-1

Lord Chancellor

Lord Atkin

Lord Thankerton

Lord Macmillan

Lord Clauson

House of Lords

Whereas Monday, the 26th day of July last, was appointed for hearing Counsel upon the Petition and Appeal of Tritonia, Limited, incorporated under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1917, and having their Registered Office at 189 Broomloan Road, Govan, Glasgow, Greig & Millar, Limited, incorporated under the Companies Act, 1929, and having their Registered Office at 185 Broomloan Road, Govan, Glasgow and Louis Blair, of 94 Hope Street, Glasgow, praying, That the matter of the Interlocutors set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary in Scotland (Lord Patrick), of the 13th of March 1942, and also an Interlocutor of the Lords of Session there, of the Second Division, of the 3d of June 1942, might be reviewed before His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, and that the said Interlocutors might be reversed, varied, or altered, or that the Petitioners might have such other relief in the premises as to His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed case of Equity and Law Life Assurance Society, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; Counsel were accordingly called in; and Counsel were heard on behalf of the Appellants Tritonia, Limited, and Greig and Millar, Limited on Monday, the 26th day of July last; and no Counsel appearing for the Appellant Louis Blair, he was heard for himself at the Bar, as well on Monday the 26th, as on Tuesday the 27th, days of July last; and Counsel appearing for the Respondents, but not being called upon; and due consideration being had this day of what was offered for the said Appellants:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in the Court of Parliament of His Majesty the King assembled, That the said Interlocutors complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same are hereby, Affirmed, and that the said Petition and Appeal be, and the same is hereby, dismissed this House: And it is further Ordered, That the Appellants do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Respondents the Costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal, the amount thereof to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That unless the Costs, certified as aforesaid, shall be paid to the parties entitled to the same within One Calendar Month from the date of the Certificate thereof, the Cause shall be, and the same is hereby, remitted back to the Court of Session in Scotland, or to the Judge acting as Vacation Judge, to issue such Summary Process or Diligence for the recovery of such Costs as shall be lawful and necessary.

The Lord Chancellor
My Lords

There are three Appellants in this case, viz. (i) Tritonia Ltd., (2) Greig & Millar, Ltd., and (3) Mr. Lewis Blair, who is a solicitor practising in Glasgow.


On 8th March upon the Appeal being called on, Mr. Blair came to the Bar of the House and indicated his intention not only to argue on his own behalf in person (which, of course, he was entitled as a party to do) but also to argue on behalf of the two other defendants. He read to us Resolutions of the Boards of these two Companies appointing him their agent for the purpose. It was pointed out to Mr. Blair that his right to be heard on behalf of the two Companies did not depend merely upon whether they had authorised him to argue on their behalf but depended on the rule and practice of the House governing representation of a party on the argument of his Appeal.


When an Appeal is argued before the House of Lords, no one has any right of audience except Counsel instructed on behalf of a party or (when the litigant is a natural person) the party himself. In the case of a Corporation, inasmuch as the artificial entity cannot attend and argue personally, the right of audience is necessarily limited to Counsel instructed on the Corporation's behalf. An apparent exception to these rules arises in the case of the Appeal Committee, whose practice, except when dealing with Petitions for leave to appeal presented pursuant to the Administration of Justice (Appeals) Act, 1934 is to hear Agents and not Counsel, as stated in paragraph 23 of the Directions to Agents, which are a summary of procedure issued by the Parliament Office and in no way binding on the Committee, who have on some occasions allowed Counsel to be heard. The practice of hearing Agents, which can be traced back to 1813, when an Order was made for Agents to attend the Committee, has never been embodied in a Standing Order of the House, and relating, as it does, only to incidental petitions and other matters dealt with by the Committee, and not to the argument on the substantive Appeal, cannot be held to constitute a real exception to the long-established rule that an appeal cannot be argued on behalf of a party by anyone except the party himself (if not a Corporation) or by Counsel.


Our attention has been called by the authorities of the House to the course taken on two previous Appeals, in which it might at first sight appear that there was a departure from this rule, and indeed the entries in the Journals of the House almost suggest it. But, rightly understood, these precedents give no support to Mr. Blair's claim to argue on behalf of the Appellant Companies. The Appeal of Nairn and Others v. University of St. Andrews and Others [1909] A.C. 147 was the appeal of four ladies who were graduates of the University of Edinburgh and who claimed as such graduates the right to vote in the election of the Parliamentary representative of that University. The appeal was argued by two of these ladies in person, and the Order of the House dismissing the appeal recites that, when Counsel were called in, "no Counsel appearing for the said appellants, Miss Jessie Chrystal Macmillan and Miss Frances Helen Simpson (two of the said appellants) were heard at the Bar on behalf of themselves and the other appellants." The situation there was, however, that each of the four ladies had identically the same case; if one succeeded they all succeeded; strictly speaking, each of the two ladies named argued...

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