The Almanac is a part of common law and is recognized by English statutes such as the Act of Uniformity, which gave statutory recognition to the Common Book of Prayer in 1662.
Before 1582, the year was regulated by the Julian calendar. Under the Julian calendar, a day was inserted between the 24th and 25th of February every fourth year, which resulted in an unduly long year. In order to restore the equinox of the position in the year in which it had initially been in the year 325, Pope Gregory the 13th ordered that these insertions be suppressed.
The Gregorian calendar was adopted in every country in the Christian world except England and in countries where the Greek and Orthodox Church were recognized. By the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, there was a discrepancy between the system in England and that in most of Europe. By the beginning of the 18th century, an 11-day difference had opened between England and the continent.
The Calendar New Style Act 1750 aligned the English calendar with that recognized in other parts of Europe.The Calendar New Style Act introduced the modern calendar, beginning the calendar year on 1st January, with a standard year consisting of 365 days. A leap year occurs once every four years. Every 100 years, there is no leap year, except every 400 years.
Division of the Year
Historically, agricultural rents were paid on four quarter days: Lady Day on 25th March, Midsummer Day on 24th June, Michaelmas Day on 29th September, and Christmas Day on 25th December. The half-quarters fell on 2nd February, 9th May, 11th August, and Martinmas on 11th November. However, these dates didn’t necessarily govern landlord-tenant relations for the payment of rent books.
In legal terms, a month may refer to a 12 unequal part of the year, a calendar or lunar month (historically referencing 28 days), or a lunar month in statutes prior to 1850. However, interpretation may vary based on the context in which it’s implied.
Regarding a period described as a calendar month on a particular date, the period expires with the day preceding the succeeding month if the period starts at the end of a month containing more days than the next month.
In strict terms, a week spans from midnight on Saturday to the same time the following week. It may also refer to any successive period of seven days. A day strictly denotes a 24-hour period from midnight to the next.
Measurement of Time
In legal and other documents, references to time generally pertain to Greenwich Time and not local time, as defined by the Statutes of Time Act 1880 and Time Ireland Act 1916.
Summer time, described by statute, advances Greenwich Mean Time forward. Historically, summer time has been two hours forward at certain periods.
The Standard Time Act 1968 establishes standard time as one hour in advance of Greenwich Mean Time in Ireland throughout the year. Any reference in an enactment or legal document before or after the act of 1968 specifying time or a point in time is interpreted accordingly.
When legislation stipulates an action during summer time, it refers to the period prescribed by the Summer Time Act 1925 and the Summer Time Order 1926, specifically 3 o’clock in the morning on the day next following the third Saturday in April or Easter Day, commencing following the second Saturday in April, and in either case, 1 o’clock in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in October.
The Standard Time Amendment Act 1971 specifies that for general purposes during a period of winter time, Greenwich Mean Time is to be used. Any reference in legislation or legal document to a specified point in time is interpreted accordingly. The Minister for Justice may specify the commencement of winter time.
Winter time commences at 1 o’clock Greenwich Mean Time on the morning of the last Sunday in October and ends at 1 o’clock Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday in March of the following year. The standardized time was set in 2001 under an EU directive.
Good Friday and Christmas Day are holidays recognized by common law. Bank holidays have been prescribed by the Bank Holidays Act 1871, Holidays Extension Act 1875, Holidays Employees Act 1973, and Organizational Working Time Act 1997.
The public holidays specified in the schedule to the Organization of Working Time Act 2007 include Christmas Days and Student’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter Monday, the first Monday in May, June, and August, the last Monday in October, the first day in January, and such other days as maybe prescribed.
Employees may provide a church holiday in lieu of a public holiday. Church holidays include 6th January Ascension, Thursday Feast of Corpus Christi, 15th August (except at a weekend), 1st November, 8th December, and other prescribed days.
Certain days may be holidays in specific sectors by custom, including in the Public and Local Government’s Act, depending on the terms and conditions of relevant officers’ employment. The arrangements concerning organizational working time and statutory holidays generally abide by common law.
At common law, there was no prohibition on doing anything on a Sunday that is otherwise lawful. Nothing rendered anything void. However, no judicial act could be done on a Sunday.
The Sunday Observance Act 1677 in England and Sunday Observance Act 1695 in Ireland made it unlawful, with certain exceptions, for any tradesman, laborer, or other person to engage in any worldly labor, business, or work on a Sunday. Subject to exceptions, no person may publicly display wares, merchandise, goods, or chattels for sale on a Sunday.
Breach of legislation was considered an offence. Proceedings must be initiated within 10 days after commission. Later legislation required the consent of the chief police of the district or stipendiary magistrate. The penalty for breach was a forfeit of 5 shillings for each offense. The Sunday Observance Act was repealed in Ireland by the Criminal Law Act 1997.
Exceptions to the statute included persons and work of necessity and charity, dressing of meats in families, dressing and selling of meat in inns, cook-shops, and victualing-houses, selling meat or milk before certain hours, shopkeepers carrying on business elsewhere than in shops observing Shops Legislation, drivers of hackney vehicles, persons taking part or attending advertising cinema and musical entertainment, museums, picture galleries, botanical gardens, and zoological gardens (all covered by later legislation).
The Intoxicating Liquor Acts provided for Sunday opening, albeit with reduced hours, a principle that has remained relatively unchanged.
Certain acts were prohibited on Sundays and certain other days, including the assembly of persons for sport outside their own parish, the conduct of trade by carriers and drovers, the killing and selling of meat by butchers, the sale of methylated spirits other than industrial spirits for medical purposes on certain days including Sundays and Mondays, and the opening of houses of public entertainment and amusement allowing play on public billiards or bagatelle tables, premises not licensed for intoxicating liquor (on Good Friday, Christmas, and other Thanksgiving days), pawnbroking, killing or taking game on Christmas Day, exposing goods except necessary in a market or fair (on certain religious holidays), opening shops for service of customers (on Sundays or alternatively the Jewish Sabbath), or holding coroner’s inquests.
Subject to exceptions, the service or execution of judgments was prohibited and void. This did not apply to other non-judicial proceedings.
Calculation of Time
When a period of time is provided by law or by contract, it’s essential to determine whether it includes the first or last mentioned day. This interpretation is crucial in understanding the intentions of parliament in the case of laws where expressions like “from a day” or “until a day” may be ambiguous. The general rule in finding a period is to exclude the first day and include the last day.
In cases where an instrument takes effect as a term of years by lease for a certain period, the term commences at midnight at the end of that day. If the commencement of the term isn’t stated, it is presumed that the day of the date when it was delivered or issued is included in the term. Context may imply that the anniversary of the initial day and not the day itself is intended to be included.
In the case of a tenancy terminable by notice, the day expressed in the notice depends on the method of computation. The days in which a tenancy from year to year is included or excluded may vary based on the context, implying a change in the word, year, or both.
When a period is fixed for an act to be done, the person for whose benefit the delay is provided has the benefit of the entire period, and the act can be done on the day on which it expires, with no possibility of performing the act before midnight on that day.
In cases where an act must be done within a certain period, the day on which the act will eventuate from which the period runs is generally not assumed to be included. The general principle is that where an act or benefit may be done or enjoyed during a period, it may be done or enjoyed up to the last moment of the last day in that period.
When a contract specifies a period in which work is to be done or goods are to be delivered, the day from which the period runs is generally included. The corresponding day at the end is also included, following a similar principle applied to benefits provided under a will. Determining a reasonable time or hour is based on particular circumstances and is determined by the court or jury as the finder of facts.
Sunday in Calculating Time
If the last day is a Sunday or another day that doesn’t generally extend the period, this doesn’t apply if the effect would render the act impossible and something has to be done on a working day. This situation may arise when a court office is closed.
Legislation may provide special provisions for when a matter falls on a Sunday or a holiday. Such legislation typically leaves those days out of the computation of the relevant period.
Where an act is to be done within a certain period, it only makes a difference if the last period falls on a Sunday or another holiday. Rules of court generally exclude Sundays and public holidays, and in calculating periods of time, a period is generally regarded as complete, even if it is short by part of the day. Consequently, in a lease, the tenant must pay the rent for the first day, even if they only enjoy part of that day.
Regarding a person’s age, today is considered the whole day. A person attains a particular age on the day next before the anniversary of their birthday.
When payment is made for the daily rate, a part of a day counts as a whole day unless the context implies otherwise.A child born on the 29th February must complete 366 days to reach their first anniversary.