Madzimbamuto v. Lardner-Burke
Southern Rhodesia Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
 1 AC 645,  3 All ER 561,  UKPC 2,  UKPC 18
The United Kingdom (UK) colonized Southern Rhodesia in 1923. Southern Rhodesia operated as an apartheid state. In 1965, an uprising by Black Rhodesians led to a state-of-emergency declaration, which, among other things, allowed for the detention of Daniel Madzimbamuto (plaintiff) as ordered by justice minister Desmond Lardner-Burke (defendant). Thereafter, the Southern Rhodesia prime minister and his ministers declared independence for Southern Rhodesia (the rebel government) (defendant). In response, the British governor declared all rebel government ministers terminated and the rebel government’s acts illegal. The UK government then passed the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order 1965 (the 1965 order), which made unlawful and void all acts, laws, or regulations of the rebel government. Madzimbamuto remained jailed, however, under a renewed declaration of emergency from the rebel government. Madzimbamuto’s wife, Stella, challenged his continued incarceration in the high court, contending that the renewed emergency declaration was void. Stella argued that Southern Rhodesia’s 1961 constitution provided that no person could be deprived of personal liberty except as authorized by law. The rebel government claimed that a new 1965 constitution created by the rebel government permitted the renewed emergency declaration and Madzimbamuto’s incarceration. The rebel government asserted that the UK could not intervene in barring its new laws and constitution based on a constitutional convention that precluded the UK from passing laws affecting a dominion without the express request by and consent of the dominion. The high court held that the 1965 constitution was invalid but allowed the emergency declaration to stand, including the continuing detention of Madzimbamuto. Stella appealed, but the appellate division held that the rebel government was now the de facto government of Southern Rhodesia and had the power to act in the same manner as the predecessor government. Stella appealed to Southern Rhodesia’s highest court, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [Editor’s Note: Southern Rhodesia is now known as Zimbabwe.]
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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