• Legis Scriptor

Case Analysis: Bradlaugh v. Gossett

Authored by Pulkit Tiwari

Keywords: Bradlaugh, Gossett, Parliament, speaker.

Name of the Case: Bradlaugh v. Gossett

Judgment Date: 09 Feb, 1884

Country: England

Court: District Court

Equivalent Citations: 12 QBD 271, 50 LT 620, 32 WR 552, 53 LJQB 209,[1884] EWHC 1 (QB).

Name of the parties:

· Appellant: Bradluagh

· Defendant: Gossett

Coram: Lord Coleridge, C.J., Mathew and Stephen, JJ.

Case cited in the case:

· Sir Francis Burdett, Bart v The Right Hon Charles Abbot KBD ((1811) 14 East 1, [1811] EngR 83, (1811) 104 ER 501)

· John Joseph Stockdale v James Hansard, Luke Graves Hansard, Luke James Hansard, And Luke Henry Hansard ([1839] EngR 139, (1839) 9 Ad & E 1, (1839) 112 ER 1112)


Every country has a parliament for its government and if the mechanism is a democratic then its opposition to sit together and raise certain issues and debate over its issue whether the thing raised would be beneficial or destructive for the countrymen as these are the people who represent a certain percentage of population so to raise concerns over something they find dubious and to accept something that would be beneficial for the people.

During this discourse and debate the formal and respected parliament becomes a school boys debating group i.e. sometimes personal remarks by one are passed on someone else usually a member of other party and this activity initiates a chain that makes the talk more dubious than the issue the persons involved in the talks. Other types of verbal violence takes place and very rarely transitions to physical violence. Some of these violence stories have continued outside the parliament in law courts.


The case analysed in the article is on the issue that took place in The House of Commons (the lower house of the parliament of England) in 1884. An act and order passed by the speaker led to the origin of this case in the law of court. This case deals with the limits of a parliament speaker and the parliament itself and whether the court of law can intervene to diffuse a tensed situations originated in the parliament.


Bradlaugh, a member of the lower house parliament i.e. house of commons from the Borough constituency of England, was refused by the Speaker to administer the oath and was excluded from the House by the serjeant at arms. Bradlaugh further took the issue to the court of law challenging the decision of the speaker and action of the serjeant at arms.


The speaker presiding the sitting of The House of Commons prohibits one of its elected members to carry out an activity which he is entitled by the law constituted by the country to do so and the member didn’t act to the prohibition and still tried to carry out the task and then to prohibit ordered the executive officer for the member’s removal from the house by force if necessary is such an order one which the court of law can declare to be void and restrain the speaker and executive officer of the House to carry out the removal of member task?


Stephen.J, one of the Judge of the coram, conveyed that the court have no power to put a restrain order on the task that the speaker and the executive officer of the House carried out. The judge also added that the House of Commons is not a subject to the control of the court of law including the internal proceedings, and that the use of such actual force as may be necessary to carry into effect such a resolution as the one before them is justifiable.

Lord Coleridge, C.J. said that there is another proposition equally true, equally well established, which seems to him decisive of the case before them and mentioned a vital addition that what is said or done within the walls of Parliament cannot be inquired into a Court of law. On this point, all the judges in the two great cases which exhaust the learning on the subject – Burdott v Abbott (1811) and Stockdale v Hansard (1839)– are agreed, and are emphatic. The Houses have an absolute and exclusive right to maintain a highly formal and to maintain so the houses also have the right to forcibly impose discipline if the same is not mentioned by the member of both the houses.

Additional statements provided by the judges:

The Parliamentary Oath Act of 1866 of the UK mentions that oath should be compulsorily taken by an elected Member of Parliament which is followed by the course of proceeding. The judge mentioned that the case being brought to the case suggests that the House of Commons has come to a resolution or an activity which does not coincides with the act because if the resolution was not inconsistent with the Act, the plaintiff obviously would not have any grievances.

The respected judge also puts forth that but it would be indecent and improper to make the further supposition that the House of Commons deliberately and purposely defies and breaks the statue of law. The House of Commons believes and considers that there was no inconsistency between the act and resolution for the reasons which are not before the court. The House may have thought that the activity proposed by the plaintiff is not in compliances with the directions mentioned by the house.

The judge says that to this the court of law has nothing to do with no matter whatever the reasons of the House of the Commons is, it would be very impossible to do justice without hearing and considering those reasons on the other hand it would be equally impossible for the House, with any regard for its own dignity and independence, to suffer its reasons to be laid before us for that purpose, or to accept our interpretation of law in preference to its own. It seems to follow that the House of Commons has the exclusive power of interpreting the statute so far as the regulation of its own proceedings within its own walls is concerned, and that even if that interpretation should be erroneous this court has no power to interfere with it, directly or indirectly.