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Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

14. Challenging government action  

This chapter focuses on the administrative justice system. Administrative justice refers to the systems that enable individuals to resolve complaints, grievances, and disputes about administrative or executive decisions of public bodies, and to obtain redress. Grievance mechanisms exist to achieve redress and to ensure accountability and improved public administration. They include formal court action through judicial review, but range well beyond the courts to informal, non-legal mechanisms. Whereas a public inquiry may concern a grievance of a larger section of the public and can raise political issues, an inquiry by an Ombudsman concerns a grievance of an individual or small group, with a different fact-finding process. Meanwhile, tribunals determine rights and entitlements in disputes between citizens and state in specific areas of law, such as social security, immigration and asylum, and tax.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

5. Impartiality and independence  

This chapter examines the role of impartiality and independence in public administration. The topics that are discussed include judicial bias, administrative bias, waiver, determining civil rights, compound decision making, and the value of independence, with an explanation of the requirement of an independent tribunal in Art 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The chapter also explains the difference between bias (which is unlawful) and a lack of impartiality (which may be lawful), and explains when bias will be presumed. Bias is presented as both a lack of due process and as a flaw in the substance of a decision maker’s reasoning.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

6. Reasons: process and substance  

This chapter illustrates the principle of relativity by explaining why public authorities may or may not be required to give reasons for their decisions, depending on the type of decision and its context. The reasons why public authorities should sometimes explain their reasons for a decision reflect the process values explained in Chapter 4: requiring reasons may improve decisions, it may be unfair (to a person affected by the decision) for the decision to be unexplained, and reasons may support judicial review, and may improve transparency and accountability in government in other ways. The discussions cover the deprivation principle, the duty of respect, trigger factors for reasons, the Padfield practicality principle, the content of reasons, how to remedy inadequate reasons, process danger, and the difference between process and substance, and why the difference matters.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

10. Procedural Fairness  

Mark Elliott and Jason Varuhas

This chapter examines the notion of procedural fairness as a technical area of administrative law. It begins with an overview of D. J. Galligan's attempt to provide what he calls ‘a general theory of fair treatment’ by addressing what it is that legal rules requiring procedural fairness might seek to achieve. It then considers the view that procedural fairness is valuable in both instrumental and non-instrumental terms before discussing two interlocking questions that must be confronted if the notion of procedural fairness is to be understood: when decision-makers are required to act fairly and what ‘acting fairly’ actually means. In particular, it explains the content of the duty to act fairly. Finally, it describes consultation as an element of procedural fairness. A number of relevant cases are cited throughout the chapter, including Cooper v. The Board of Works for Wandsworth District (1863).

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

5. Retention of Discretion  

Mark Elliott and Jason Varuhas

This chapter discusses the principles of administrative law which require decision-makers to retain the discretion which they are granted. It first considers the question of delegation of discretionary powers as well as the non-delegation principle before explaining the nature of delegation. It then examines the courts' approach with respect to departmental decision-making in central government and how far the discretionary freedom of the decision-maker designated by statute may be constrained by delegation and the adoption of policies. It also shows why it is often desirable or even necessary for decision-makers to exercise their discretion in line with a policy or a set of criteria. Finally, it looks at judicial moves towards ensuring that exercise of discretion is structured and legally constrained by publicly available policy. A number of relevant cases are cited throughout the chapter, including Barnard v. National Dock Labour Board [1953] 2 QB 18.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

16. Locus Standi  

This chapter focuses on the concept of locus standi, perhaps the most important way in which administrative law deals with the question of how to balance the protection of individual citizens’ rights and interests with the desire to ensure that government decision-making remains within legal limits and that government bodies (including the courts) are protected from vexatious litigants. It is organised as follows. The first section addresses the law that existed prior to the introduction of the Order 53 reforms in 1977 whilst the second covers the short period between the introduction of those reforms and the House of Lords’ decision in IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses. The third section runs from the mid-1980s to the present day. The pervasive analytical concerns are to explore the way the law of locus standi interacts with the question of the choice of procedure issues which were addressed in chapter fifteen, and—more broadly—to assess how those two matters both singly and in combination structure in a practical sense the way our constitution gives effect to the various values inherent in theories relating to the rule of law and sovereignty of Parliament.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

16. Illegality  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. This chapter examines ‘illegality’ as a ground for judicial review. Central to judicial review is the idea of ultra vires, which is the principle that public authorities have to act within their legal powers and that if they act or fail to act consistently with their legal powers, they will be acting unlawfully. Case law on the exercise of discretionary powers by public authorities is discussed in depth. In addition, the public-sector equality duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 is explained. The concept of jurisdiction and the distinction between error of law and error of fact are also included under this ground of review.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

13. The Grounds of Judicial Review  

This chapter discusses the grounds upon which it is possible to challenge administrative decisions by way of judicial review, and shows that there are many and varied grounds on which courts may review decisions taken by public bodies. A notable theme in this area concerns the deepening, in recent years, of judicial scrutiny of the executive. New grounds of review—such as legitimate expectation and proportionality—have emerged, often involving a greater degree of judicial oversight of executive decisions than has traditionally existed.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

16. Judicial review: grounds and remedies  

This chapter assesses judicial review and the rule of law, the three traditional grounds of judicial review, proportionality, the modern approach to judicial review, and remedies. Judicial review is the rule of law in action. Through judicial review, the courts place constraints on executive power by upholding and projecting rule of law principles on to executive actions. Indeed, it ensures that administrative decisions are taken rationally, in accordance with a fair procedure, and within the powers conferred by Parliament. As such, the traditional judicial review grounds of illegality, irrationality, and procedural impropriety are applied flexibly to protect individuals against the unreasonable, arbitrary, procedurally unfair, or unlawful use of power. Judicial review has unique remedies known as prerogative orders which comprise mandatory orders, prohibiting orders, and quashing orders.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

9. Bias, Impartiality, and Independence  

Mark Elliott and Jason Varuhas

This chapter examines the notions of impartiality (and bias) and independence. It first provides an overview of the scope and rationale of the rule against bias before discussing the connection between impartiality and procedural fairness. It then reviews the ‘automatic disqualification rule’ by which a decision-maker can be disqualified if he/she has a sufficient financial interest in the outcome of the decision-making process. It also explores the apprehension of bias and the ‘fair-minded observer rule’, along with the political dimensions of the rule against bias. Finally, it considers Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights in an administrative context and when Article 6(1) applies to administrative decision-making. A number of relevant cases are cited throughout the chapter, including R v. Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy [1924] 1 KB 256.