Last Updated 24 May 2016

An Act of parliament will overrule the common law if there is a common law principle and an Act which conflict in relation to the same area of law. This is because the supreme power to make laws is vested in elected representatives of parliament.

The role of the courts is to interpret the laws made by those parliaments and, where appropriate, create new laws (either through the process of interpretation or because no current parliament-made laws exist in the particular area).

Parliament can, of course, override the decisions made at common law by enacting legislation to cover the area of law previously covered by the common law. Increasingly, Acts are replacing or complementing judge-made law, but the common law still applies in many areas, and the doctrine of precedent continues today.