14 July 2011

See updates of 7, 24, and 28 June 2011 and 13 July 2011 at the foot of the post


John Laird, an Ulster member of the House of Lords, asked what the present status of stannary law in Cornwall is (Lords Hansard 11 May 2011, column WA 213-214). The government response was clear: “Cornwall is subject to UK legislation. While the body of stannary customary law has not been systematically repealed, it is likely that such customary law has been superseded by modern legislation.”

Indeed. The government rightly takes the view that stannary law no longer applies and if it was not so I have no doubt stannary law would be quickly abolished. Stannary law is in effect extinct.

There have been several questions in parliament about Cornwall ‘constitutional’ issues. All received answers displeasing to nationalism.


7 June 2011
John Laird asked another stannary question about “whether stannary law can still be used in appropriate courts in Cornwall”.

The answer was repetitively clear: “There is no special status for legislation which applies to Cornwall or to Cornish localities. There were provisions in 19th century primary legislation relating to the stannaries, but these have largely been repealed. Stannary customary law was formerly enforced through the Stannaries Court, but that court was abolished and its jurisdiction transferred to the county courts of Cornwall in consequence of the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896. That body of customary law has not been systematically repealed but it is likely that such law has been superseded by modern legislation.” (Lords Hansard 6 June 2011 column WA30)

24 June 2011
John Laid asked a similar question, this about the Cornwall county courts administering stannary law. Tom McNally replied that the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896 had transferred the legal powers of the stannary courts to the county courts (Lords Hansard 22 June 2011 column WA 303).

28 June 2011
And yet two more questions from Laird on 27 June 2011 about stannary law, these about building regulations and tin-bound land. The reply from McNally was short and pointed: he referred him back to the answers of 11 May and 6 June 2011 (Lords Hansard 27 June 2011 column WA 359).

14 July 2011
In his sixth question about stannary law, John Laird asked what the word ‘likely’ meant in McNally’s answer of May. This time John Taylor (lord Taylor of Holbeach) answered: “It would be for a court to decide in the context of a particular case what account, if any, is to be taken of stannary customs. The Government’s assessment of likelihood was based on the absence of recent reported cases concerning such customs. The Government have become aware of a very small number of applications to the county court in recent years concerning tin bounding, which is a very specific aspect of stannary law. The Government are unaware of any other recent cases where the court has upheld arguments derived from stannary customs (Lords Hansard 13 July 2011 column WA 177).

So, I think stannary law is still a dead parrot. And as I said earlier, if it was not I have no doubt stannary law would be quickly abolished.


Cornwall today 11 April 2007

Cornwall is part of England – and staying put 9 October 2008

Who owns the Cornwall foreshore? 11 February 2009

Crown Estate owns sea and seabed off county of Cornwall 12 October 2010

Duchy of Cornwall 20 November 2010

Government: ‘Cornwall is part of England’ 12 January 2011

Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate 13 May 2011

– and Aristotle’s teeth