Libertatem Magazine

Repeal of Statute- Express Repeal and Presumption Against Implied Repeal of Statutes

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The term “repeal of the statute” refers to the act of invalidating legislation and depriving it of its power. Repeal of legislation is an important issue in statutory interpretation because of its function, scope, and consequences. When the parliament passes legislation, it may include measures that are not suitable for the broader public. The legislature can then amend or repeal the Act. Repeal of law is the removal or reversal of a law; it can be done explicitly or implicitly. When a new act expressly states that a previous law is repealed, this is known as explicit repeal. Contrary to popular belief, a law is abrogated by implicit repeal when new legislation has provisions that are so diametrically opposed to those of any previous law that only one of them may continue in force. Legislation that enables something that was previously banned or grants additional authorities is known as an enabling statute. It is legislation that grants a public official or a business additional or expanded authority or powers. It makes something legal that would not have been legal otherwise. A debilitating statute, on the other hand, is one that restricts or limits the rights granted by a previous statute. It might be construed as going against the enabling statute. Then there is explanatory legislation, which is a statute stated to remove uncertainty in the interpretation of existing laws.



Repeal, in general, refers to the act of deleting or removing something, therefore repeal of the legislation refers to the act of deleting or removing. When legislation is no longer functional or has more negative repercussions, it is necessary to repeal it. Parliament is India’s law-making body, and statutes are known as the laws approved by the parliament. When a law is approved by the parliament, it may include provisions that are not appropriate for the general public. The legislation can then be modified or repealed by the parliament. Legislation can be repealed in two ways: partially or completely. When a portion of legislation or provision is repealed, the remainder of the statute or provision remains in effect. For the purpose of ex- act of union, 1800. This act was enacted to unite “Great Britain and Ireland” into “United Kingdom.” After that, in 1922, this legislation was partially revoked since Ireland declined to join the United Kingdom in 1921.

Then there’s complete/full repeal, which occurs when the whole legislation is challenged and after that got repealed. Statutes may be repealed in one of two ways: express repeal or implied repeal. Express repeal occurs when subsequent legislation expresses the repeal of a previous/prior statute in written form. If two statutes exist concerning the same or a similar kind of topic, the succeeding/subsequent statute will take precedence over the prior/preceding one. When the act is abolished, any delegated law created under it is repealed as well. If subordinate law is still in effect, its scope and interpretation must be the same as the repealed act. It can refer to re-enactment with amendments, such as updating legislation, or re-enactment without amendments, such as consolidating a statute. Repeal without re-enactment or replacement is the second option. For example, in England, the corn restrictions were removed in 1846 following a heated struggle.


In the event of express repeal, the act specifically states that a prior law would no longer be relevant, making express repeal mandatory. When a succeeding statute expressly repeals a previous/prior statute in writing, this is known as explicit repeal. When later law includes a repealing language declaring that certain portions or actions will be repealed, this amounts to express repeal. To repeal existing legislation, language such as “shall cease to have effect” or “all provisions that are conflicting with this act are thus repealed” are commonly used in the later statute. Separate repealing clauses in statutes may clearly specify how that action will take precedence over prior enactments that may be in conflict with it or deal with the same subject area.


The legislation does not offer an express statement of implicit repeal since it is dependent on presumption or inference. The earlier laws that are contradictory or in conflict with the succeeding laws shall be repealed by the later laws. This typically refers to situations in which two or more legislations are mutually incompatible to the point that they can’t both be in effect at the same time. As a result, if the two acts are read together, repeal may not be inferred. If two statutes exist on the same or comparable issue, the succeeding/following legislation takes priority over the preceding one. When dealing with the notion of double jeopardy, the relevance of the theory of Implied Repeal becomes clear. A single act or omission may be subject to many provisions. As a result, the accused may believe that he or she can be tried under two or more statutes. Section 26 of the General Clauses Act of 1897, on the other hand, refers to a clause that deals with offenses punishable under two or more statutes.

Effects of Repeal of Statute:

  1. The repeal of the act will have no effect on the prior functioning of any statute that has been repealed.
  2. Any rights, privileges, obligations, or liabilities gained, accrued, or incurred under any repealed enactment would be unaffected.
  3. The repeal shall not in any manner whatsoever affect a sentence or penalty already imposed under such law.
  4. Any inquiry, legal process or any other remedy with regards to such rights granted and duties imposed by the repealed law will not be affected by repealing the act.

In the case of Hamilton Gell vs. White, the land was transferred from owner to tenant under the tenancy statute; but, if the act is repealed, the owner has the right to reclaim his land. This right cannot be taken away from the owner due to repeal. It is the owner’s unique right to reclaim his land or to seek compensation on that basis. Secondly, in the case of Abbott vs. Minister of Lands, the appellant argued that as a purchaser of public property in South Wales in 1871, he gained entitled to make subsequent purchases of crown land bordering his initial holding under the Crown Land Alienation Act, 1861. The Crown Land Legislation of 1884 revoked the 1861 act. As a result, this privilege cannot be protected.


While repealing a statute is a completely lawful option, it must be avoided unless and until it becomes completely necessary to do so. In the case of smaller defects, there exist various other remedies. For example, there are certain statutes enacted to correct flaws in the laws enacted by parliament, laws that have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. Other legislation may be referred to or used by the respective courts. Statutory assistance is another name for it. 

Curative or validating statutes are enacted to correct flaws in current laws that are not appropriate for the general public. The objective of this statute is to make conduct legal that has previously been deemed illegal by the courts. There are additional remedies available for ambiguity in legislation, such as a statute passed to correct flaws in a preceding law. The goal of enacting such legislation is to strengthen the enforcement of one’s rights. It is construed liberally, and any uncertainty is resolved in favor of the one who benefits from the act. These techniques are extremely important not only for the appropriate and correct interpretation or construction of legislative provisions but also for comprehending the statute’s purpose.

However, sometimes the whole Act might need to be struck down. In such a situation, repealing the Act becomes necessary. Moreover, sometimes law needs to change and grow with the society, as the law is a living concept. We have seen so many examples of the Constitution being interpreted differently with time according to the requirements of society. This might bring about significant changes in the rights conferred upon us, and thus some laws might be needed to change accordingly. Under such circumstances, if a law is repealed, care has to be taken regarding the effects of such repeal and the conflicting positions of certain rights which might be caused by such repeal. A balance has to be maintained in enacting the new law and invalidating the prior one, so as to not to cause injustice to anyone. 

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