Harry Potter in the House of Lords

Cupboard under the stairs “not premises”

Harry Potter fan art by Hakumo (http://hakumo.deviantart.com/)

10th February 2008
The House of Lords was recently (in the case of Majorstake Limited v. Curtis [2008] UKHL 10) called upon to consider the legal definition of the term “premises”. Demonstrating that the judiciary has come a long way since the
infamous “who are the Beatles?” days, their Lordships took the time to ponder the question of whether a cupboard under the stairs could be “premises”.

In the words of Lord Scott of Foscote: “Harry Potter, we are told, received letters addressed to him at “The Cupboard under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Winging”. “The Cupboard under the Stairs” might have constituted “premises” for the purpose of letters from Hogwarts but for the purposes of construction of the 1993 Act a normal use of the English language must be assumed.”

It is interesting that their Lordships evidently consider Hogwarts to be under some sort of separate jurisdiction subject to different rules of interpretation. It is not known whether Hogwarts are considering the introduction of an Ordinary Wizarding Level examination in Muggle law so that their junior witches and wizards can avoid a (ahem) spell in jail.

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