Union Colliery Co of British Columbia v Bryden

Union Colliery Co of British Columbia v Bryden [1] is a famous Canadian constitutional decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council where the exclusivity principle inCanadian federalism and pith and substance analysis was first articulated.

Bryden was a shareholder in Union Colliery, a coal mining company in British Columbia, and was troubled by the company’s practice of employing “Chinamen” and putting them into positions of authority. He sought an injunction against the company for violating section 4 of the Provincial Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1890, which prohibited hiring “Chinamen” to work in coal mines. Union Colliery challenged the constitutionality of Act, arguing that the prohibition on matters of naturalization and under the jurisdiction of the federal government under section 91 (25) of the British North America Act, 1867 . Bryden, however, argued that the federal government had no laws covering the matter the province was allowed to step in and legislate on it.

The issue before the Council has been ratified by the federal government.

The Council held that the pith and substance of the provision was in relation to “aliens and naturalized subjects” and did not fall within the federal jurisdiction. They also held that the federal government did not require any jurisdiction in their jurisdiction, and they could not even interfere with the federal jurisdiction. It is only where the two governments make an explicit agreement can the province legislate in federal matters.

See also

  • List of Judicial Committees of the Privy Council cases
  • List of Supreme Courts of Canada cases


  1. Jump up^ Union Colliery Company of British Columbia, Limited and others v John Bryden [1899] UKPC 58, [1899] AC 580 (July 28, 1899),PC(on appeal from British Columbia)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *