Burmah Oil v Lord Advocate [1965]

  • Created by: channyx
  • Created on: 20-03-20 18:52


During World War II military forces under the command of Britain purposefully destroyed the oil installations (wells, pipelines, refineries, etc.) in Burma. The decision, taken in the face of the advance of the Imperial Japanese military forces, was part of Britain's strategic retreat from the territory and was intended to deny the Japanese the oil resource. It was contended that because the destruction was purposeful, rather than incidental or accidental (that is, it did not occur in the heat of battle), the destruction, although a lawful use of the prerogative power, should nonetheless attract compensation for the loss. This note considers an example of Parliament passing retroactive legislation.


Lord Reid reasoned that 'the prerogative certainly covers doing all those things in an emergency which are necessary for the conduct of war'—a view supported by Lord Pearce. Lord Reid noted that anything more protracted or planned would ordinarily require statutory emergency powers (at 101…


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