The Supreme Court’s judgment in Adams and the missing step of statutory construction
Keywords:statutory construction, parliamentary intention, criminal law
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in R v Adams  UKSC 19 was made partly on the basis of an assumption that the invalidity of the interim custody order made in respect of the appellant would automatically result in the quashing of his convictions for escaping detention on the basis of that order under paragraph 38(a) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973. However, to make this assumption is to skip a crucial step in the required reasoning: construction of the statutory offence the appellant was convicted of. Several arguments are put forward suggesting an alternative construction of paragraph 38(a). That construction holds that the paragraph 38(a) offence not only prohibits escape from detention under a valid interim custody order, but also from detention under an ostensibly valid, but nonetheless technically invalid, interim custody order.