Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fourteenth Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


  1. By a letter from its Clerk dated 12 November 1997 the Committee requested a memorandum on the following point:

    Regulation 2(2) states that these Regulations [made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972] are to have effect for the purpose of making such provisions as is necessary to comply with the Directive and are to be construed accordingly. Explain the purpose of each proposition, indicating, as to the second, which expressions used in the Regulations are given a meaning in the Directive.

  2. The first proposition is to inform the reader of the purpose of making the Regulations. It is declaratory but looks forward to the second proposition, which is intended to ensure that, in the event of any dispute as the meaning of the Regulations, such dispute should be resolved by reference to the Directive, either by referring to the terms specifically defined in the Directive or by considering other expressions used in the Directive whose meaning can be ascertained by the context in which they are used. Into the former category fall "technical specification " and "Eurocontrol standard" and into the latter falls "general documents or specifications".

  3. The Department included this wording partly to incorporate definitions found in the directive into the Regulations and also state explicitly the principle of consistent interpretation with the Directive. The Department noted that a similar provision was used in section 1(1) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. In a recent case the European Court of Justice was asked to consider whether a provision had been correctly implemented in that Act and the Court noted both that there was no evidence that courts in the UK would interpret the provision in question in a way which was not consistent with the Directive and also that the wording of section 1(1) expressly obliged them to do so.[2]

  4. On further reflection the Department acknowledges that the provision is unnecessary to the extent that it states the existing law and that an alternative means of incorporating the definitions used in the Directive would have been more appropriate.

17th November 1997

2   Commission v United Kingdom. Case No. C300/95. Decided 29 May 1997. Not yet reported in full. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 12 January 1998