Dumble v Electoral Registration Officer for the Borders 1980 SLT (Sh Ct) 60

Dumble v Electoral Registration Officer for the Borders 1980 SLT (Sh Ct) 60

  1. Summarise and explain briefly the continuing significance of the above case in relation to the issue of entitlement to vote. The legislation argued over in this case has since been reformed but assess the relevance of its interpretation to the equivalent provisions of the 1983 Act.
  1. Apply the legal interpretation illustrated authoritatively in the above case to solving the fictional problem below.
  1. Restrict each part of your answer to a maximum of 500 words and a minimum of 350.

To understand the significance and relevance to the provisions of the 1983 act it must be noted what the act states:

The Representation of the People Act 1949, s. 1 (as amended by the Representation of the People Act 1969, Sched. 2, para 1 enacts inter alia:

“(1) … the persons entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency shall be those who— (a) are resident there on the qualifying date”.

In the case of Dumble v Electoral Registration Officer for the Borders 1980 SLT (Sh Ct) 60

The name Malone appeared in the register of electors for a certain political party in that constituency and had used the address he had in that constituency as a base for the political career he had. Thomas Dumble had appealed from a decision of the electoral registration officer outlawing an opposition to the existence of the name Gerald Malone, located at the address in the register of elections – Kirkland’s Lodge, Ancrum. In the constituency of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Pebbles. The objection arose from Mr Malone resided at 17 Mirrlees drive, Glasgow, not Kirkland’s lodge on the qualifying date. Mr M is the parliamentary elector for this constituency and the agent for liberal candidate as he resides at 2 Gala lane, Galashiels.

It is fair to say that Mr Malone is a member of the political party he is a prospective parliamentary candidate and used the address due to his political career however the principle address was located in another constituency which would have been more convenient for his profession. It was held, that the appeal was refused on the grounds that the court considered the fact that there was a possibility of a person having a qualifying address in multiple constituencies, also having two careers which are very important to him which required separate constituencies should appear in separate constituencies; The appeal was rejected.

The parliament have foreseen events like this as mentioned in the case above this is why case is significant in regards to the issue of voting as there are many people who live in more than one home due to personal reasons or work commitments. It was decided that Mr Malone qualifies for registration at both addresses and the fact he may have to travel is impartial to the decision.

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Looking back at the Representation of the People Act[1], S2. Paragraph again where it states “(1) … the persons entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency shall be those who— (a) are resident there on the qualifying date

Brenda would be perfectly fine to vote in Newferry where she is studying for a law degree and her home in Brigadoon where she has family and friends. It can be illustrated why in the Dumble v Electoral Registration Officer 2 as to why she can. The case highlights how Dumble has two homes in different continuances and one of them is for his work. It is very important to him and his life and therefore allowed to be the name on each constituency. However, in regards to the holiday home it won’t be justifiable to have her vote in that location. This home as it’s a holiday home will be subject to conditions for it to be included in her right to vote. One condition is that by all means a person can own more than one property however a temporary presence at an address does not make a person resident there. In the commissions view it is unlikely that owning a second property which is visited only for recreational purposes would meet the residence qualifications 3


Her home in Brigadoon is where her main priority would be as it is her family residence and would not be at a disadvantage there and even in Newferry where her future is dependent on as she is studying for a law degree will not be in jeopardy as she will have the right to vote there to. A case which demonstrates this is the case of Scott v Phillips 4 Scott owned a house in Inveresk where his occupation was an architect. This in turn is his principle residence as his life is there, his job which aids his future. However, he was also a tenant of a cottage he had on lease in Berwickshire. He spent only three to four months there and had somewhat of a local interest in the place. It was held his cottage was considered a holiday home and this rejecting the appeal. , the decision distinguished between a substantive home and a home which was incidental to the substantive home.

Consideration was given, in general terms, to where the ‘main business of life’ was conducted. The registration appeal court made clear, however, that each case needs to be considered on its own merits 5


To conclude, Brenda’s holiday home is not something of importance in regards to residence. Unlike her other two homes where her family reside and the other for her future where she is studying law. These are of importance and value to her thus it would not be justifiable to allow her to vote at her holiday home where she may only spend a few weeks or months there a year. She is not considered a resident there.


I enjoyed doing this task; it really got me thinking and allowed me to understand how the law really works in regards to how residency affects voting. My problem solving skills had to come into play here as I had trouble at first interpreting each case. The language had me confused at times and I wasn’t sure who the courts were in favour for to begin with but after carefully reading it more and more I got to grips with it. Researching on this case much easier as I am now use to the idea of reading a case and checking Westlaw or LexisNexis. I feel I have become very sharp at looking and interpreting cases now and enjoy breaking them down. Planning for this task was tricky as I had not managed to submit it on time for Phil to mark. I had to give this my all and really try and nail it as best as I could. I hope I have done myself justice as I have put in a lot of time into it. This task was challenging however I have learned a lot about myself now that the portfolio items are finished. I can see how I have progressed with each task and I am happy because I feel more confident as I tackle each one. I could have worked on my time management a bit better on this one as I do regret not having feedback.


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1 The Representation of the People Act 1969, S. 2, paragraph 1

2 Dumble v Electoral Registration Officer for the Borders, [1980], SLT (Sh Ct) 60

3 http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/43954/Part-B-Entitlement-to-register-March-2010.pdf

4 Scott v. Phillips, 1974 S.L.T. 32

5 http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/43954/Part-B-Entitlement-to-register-March-2010.pdf