Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Prorogation Definition:

To end a session of a Parliament, and all business then on the agenda, until it is summoned to reconvene.

In the British Parliamentary tradition, Parliament convenes in a series of sessions, with a standing order paper which expands and contracts as bills move through the legislative system.

To prorogue means to end such a session and all at that time on the order paper, dies with prorogation.

A session can be simply adjourned, with the session subject to reconvening at the call of the Speaker. An adjournment of Parliament does not wipe the order paper clean nor does it require, in a British Parliamentary system, the intervention of the Governor General.

In Telezone, Justice Macpherson of the Ontario Court of Appeal used these words:

"(A session is) ... one of the fundamental time periods into which a Parliament is divided, usually consisting of a number of separate sittings.  Sessions are begun by a Speech from the Throne and are ended by prorogation or dissolution of the Parliament."

In Lane's Commentary on the Australian Constitution, the author uses these words:

"... the consequence of the .. proclamation to prorogue is at once to suspend all business until Parliament shall be summoned again.

"Not only are the sittings of Parliament at an end, but all proceedings pending at the time are quashed. Every bill must therefore be renewed after a prorogation, as if it had never been introduced."

Thus prorogation wipes the order paper clean. Conversely, all bills which have not received Royal Assent by prorogation, are said to have died on the order paper.

Prorogation does not end a Parliament, following which an election would be required to reconstitute the legislative assembly. A Parliament is finally ended by the efflux of time if so provided in a constitution (Canada's limit is five years) or by the Governor General's proclamation of dissolution; thus it is dissolved and cannot be recalled.


  • Lane., P., Lane's Commentary on the Australian Constitution (Sydney: The Law Book Company, 1986), page 23.
  • Marleau, R. and Montpetit, C., House of Commons Procedure and Practice (Montreal: Cheneliere/McGraw Hill, 2000).

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