Media & Arts Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 227-251, 2006
Posted: 17 Dec 2007 Last revised: 15 Apr 2009
Parliamentary privilege protects "proceedings in parliament" which includes debate within a house of parliament and other activities that are integral to operation of parliament such as the work of parliamentary committees. But there are activities which involve parliament but may not be a "proceeding in parliament." Correspondence from members of the public is an example. People who write to a member of parliament often do so in the hope that the member will use the correspondence in parliamentary proceedings, but when does correspondence attract the privilege granted to a "proceeding in parliament"? This article examines recent cases involving that question. It concludes that the key issue is not the intention of the person who sends correspondence to a member of parliament, but whether the member uses or intends to use the correspondence for parliamentary business. The article examines some proposals for reform to clarify the when privilege applies to correspondence to members of parliament. The authors conclude that any reform must balance the legitimate functioning of parliament with the responsible use of parliamentary privilege.
Keywords: Parliament, Parliamentary privilege, proceeding in parliament, correspondence
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Groves, Matthew and Campbell, Enid M., Correspondence with Members of Parliament. Media & Arts Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 227-251, 2006; Monash University Faculy of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006/14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1072244