23 February 1954
The petitioner has brought this petition under the nobile officium, inviting us to "grant warrant to and authorise the Registrar General to rectify the entry in the Register of Marriages relating to the petitioner's said marriage, by recording said decree of divorce against the said entry in the Register of Marriages." We were referred to the terms of the 1855 Act, section 5 of which says, "In every case in which the status of any person shall be altered by a decree of any competent Court, the clerk to the process shall forthwith report such decree to the Registrar General; and it shall be lawful for the Registrar General, and he is hereby required, to take all measures necessary for having the entries in the duplicate registers affected by such decree rectified, by causing the date of the decree and the import thereof to be noted upon the margin of both duplicates opposite to such entries, as the Registrar General shall think fit and direct." It was argued that this section is of general scope, and that it applies to decrees of divorce wherever pronounced, and this appeal is made to the nobile officium to provide machinery to enable the general intention to be carried out in this particular case. But it seems to me that the section is of limited scope. This is a statute which applies only to Scotland. Its purview is limited to Scots processes and Scots officials. The practice of his department over a century seems to bear out that the only decrees with which the Registrar General is concerned are Scottish decrees. If that be the proper view of the Act, Mr Wilson's argument completely falls to the ground. What Parliament intended is not in doubt. There is no casus improvisus of the sort with which the nobile officium can deal. The nobile officium cannot be used to extend the scope of Acts of Parliament. Where the intention of a statute is clear but the machinery required for carrying out that intention is lacking, the nobile officium can, under special circumstances, be invoked to provide the necessary machinery, but in the present case it seems to me that the intention of the statute is clear and the machinery for carrying out that intention in Scottish matters is provided. There is no room at all for the view that the Registrar General has anything to do with decrees of divorce which take place outwith the bounds of Scotland. Accordingly, in my view, the prayer of the petition should be refused.
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