Commentary

A5.302 Grounds of judicial review

Administration and compliance

A5.302 Grounds of judicial review

A5.302 Grounds of judicial review

The High Court will be concerned to see that the decision was made within the jurisdiction of the authority making it, that the authority correctly directed itself on the law and that, in the exercise of that jurisdiction, the applicant was not treated unfairly. However, provided that the decision is not perverse, it will not interfere with the proper exercise of a power or discretion conferred by statute, nor will it substitute its own decision for that of the authority concerned1. The position has to be judged in the light of the information before the decision taker2. In Council of Civil Service Unions v Ministry for the Civil Service3, Lord Diplock identified three grounds on which judicial review might be sought: 'procedural impropriety', 'illegality' and 'irrationality'. This statement and the similar statement in Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corpn4 per Lord Greene MR should just be regarded as indicating the main instances upon when judicial review may be sought and are not exhaustive. In particular, it is now clear that a public body acts unlawfully when it unfairly abuses its powers5.

Lord Diplock himself also suggested that there might in the future be a fourth ground of judicial review—that of proportionality. This is a ground that features in other European jurisdictions. However, whilst subsequent authorities have acknowledged that the distinction between this ground and that of Wednesbury unreasonableness may not always be significant, the House of Lords in R v Home Secretary (ex p

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