Parliamentary Papers Act 1840

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The Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 (3&4 Vict., c. 9) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act was passed in response to the case of Stockdale v. Hansard where it was held that the House of Commons enjoyed no privilege as to publications under its authority circulated beyond Members of Parliament.

The Act provides that:

  • Publications under the House’s authority enjoy absolute privilege against civil or criminal proceedings (s.1);
  • Correct copies of such publications also enjoy absolute privilege (s.2);
  • Extracts are protected by qualified privilege. The burden of proof is on the defendant to show that the publication was without malice (s.3).

Publication for circulation among Members of Parliament is protected by absolute privilege under common law.[1] The Act received Royal Assent on 14 April 1840.


  1. ^ Lake v. King (1667) 1 Saunders 131.


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