Fairness (R (Timson) v SoS for Work & Pensions (2022) EWHC 2392 (Admin))

September 26th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

In R (Timson) v SoS for Work & Pensions (2022) EWHC 2392 (Admin) Cavanagh J considered the case-law authorities on the circumstances in which written guidance to decision makers may render unlawful the exercise of statutory discretion, the test for judicial review of a policy at common law, the Padfield and Tameside obligations, and, from para 150,  the fairness obligation. He reiterated that the rule is that, BEFORE a statutory purpose is exercised, ANY person who FORESEEABLY would be SIGNIFICANTLY DETERIMENTALLY AFFECTED should be given the OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REPRESENTATIONS IN ADVANCE unless (1) the statutory provisions concerned expressly or impliedly provide otherwise or (2) the circumstances in which the power is to be exercised would render it 9i) impossible, (ii) impractical or (iii) pointless, any argument in support of which should be VERY CLOSELY EXAMINED. A Court will be SLOW TO OLD that there is no obligation to give the opportunity, when such an obligation is not dispensed with in the relevant statute. Cavanagh J considered common law claims and ECHR rights. As to the latter, he considered whether the claimant was a “victim” for the purposes of Section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and whether there was a breach of the claimant’s rights under Article 1 of the First Protocol, in the context of social security benefits. In a control of use case, just as in a deprivation or expropriation case, a FAIR BALANCE must be struck between the demands of the general interests of the community and the REQUIREMENT of the protection of the individual’s FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. The rules of domestic law must be sufficiently ACCESSIBLE,  PRECISE and FORESEEABLE. The fact that the case is concerned with a control of use rather than deprivation of property may be relevant, for example, if may have an impact upon the FAIR BALANCE ISSUE. The fair balance test is addressed at paras 258-261 inclusive. Cavanagh J also considered the question sof “other status”  and comparator for the purposes of Article 14 of the ECHR.

 

Procurement Damages

September 22nd, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

In Braceurself Ltd v NHS England (2022) EWHC 2348 (Admin) there was a two-horse contract race. The outcome of the procurement competition was very close. Even minor breaches of the procurement regime by the contracting authority could have had a decisive impact on the outcome. There was an actual loss of the contract, not the mere loss of the chance of winning a contract.  There was a breach. The Claimant sought damages. It failed, notwithstanding the “powerful impact” of the breach on the outcome. The breach was held not to be “sufficiently serious” to justify an award of FRANCOVICH/BRASSERIE DU PECHEUR damages. Whether that was the case, in accordance with the House of Lords decision in FACTORTAME, the UK Supreme Court decision in ENERGY SOLUTIONS v NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING AUTHORITY and the decision of the Court of Appeal in DELANEY v SoS for TRANSPORT, was the issue. That depended on all the many relevant factors and the individual facts of the case, as recognized by the Court of Appeal in Ocean Outdoor v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC. The impact of the breach on the availability of public services is amongst the relevant considerations. The Judge said, at para 90, that the phrase “sufficiently serious” indicates that a “fairly high threshold” must be passed before it can be said that, in all the circumstances, the test had been satisfied. This was because (1) it was a single breach case, (2) the breach was at the excusable end of the spectrum and minor, (3)the was inadvertent and occurred in good faith, (4) the Defendant’s purpose was a laudable one, (5)  overall the procurement was carefully planned and well-organised, (6) the adverse impact from the breach was limited, and (7) the case was far removed from the multiple breach case in ENERGY SOLUTIONS.

 

Fit and Proper Person

September 13th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Hussain v Waltham Forest Council (2022) UKUT 241 (LC) it is held that on the question whether someone is a “fit and proper person” to hold a licence under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 the FTT should take into account evidence that tended to show unsuitability, whether or not the matters were known to the local housing authority at the time of their licence application refusal decision.

 

Consultation

September 5th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

The Coughlan principles apply within the ambit of a consultation being undertaken. They cannot be used to contend that the scope of the consultation should have been wider. So stated by Holgate J at para 196 in R (BT Pension Scheme Trustees Ltd) v UK Statistics Authority (2022) EWHC 2265 (Admin).

 

 

Irrationality

September 5th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In R (Challis) v SoS for Health and Social Care (2022) EWHC 2269 (Admin) Steyn J at para 73 addresses the legal principles in circumstances where the sole ground of judicial review is irrationality. It is for the Court to determine whether, viewed objectively, the decision is outside the range of reasonable decisions open to the decision-maker. Unequal treatment is not a distinct ground of review. In assessing an allegation of unequal treatment the question is whether irrational distinctions have been drawn between different groups. Consistency is a generally desirable objective. It is not an absolute rule.

 

Exclusion from voting

August 31st, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

Exclusion of Committee members from voting was one of the issues in R ( Spitalfields Historic Building Trust ) v Tower Hamlets LBC ( 2022 ) EWHC 2262 ( Admin ). The Judge’s analysis in relation to this begins at para 111. The starting point is that every member of a local authority council or committee has a prima facie entitlement to vote at a relevant meeting. Any restriction of the entitlement requires statutory authority. Where consideration of a planning application is deferred, the two meetings form part of a single decision-making process. A local authority is entitled, by provision in its Constitution, to say that, as far as possible, members should be present for all of that process in order to vote. Such a provision constitutes the regulation of “ proceedings and business “ of the committee, within the power in para 42 of Sch 12 to the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Duty of Care

August 31st, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

The Appeal in HXA v Surrey County Council (2022 ) EWCA Civ 1196 involves consideration of the circumstances in which a local authority, and/or the social workers for whom it is vicariously liable, owe a duty of care toa child to whom the local authority is providing child protection services. The Court of Appeal’s Conclusions are set out from paragraph 90 to 110.. A duty of care cannot arise simply as a result of the authority’s general duties, but may arise as a result of its specific exercise of its specific duties to a child if, on a case by case basis and the specific facts of the case, the circumstances amount to an assumption of responsibility for the child, and the circumstances in which an authority may assume responsibility for a child are not confined to cases where it acquires parental responsibility under a care order.

 

 

Community Infrastructure Levy

August 17th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Planning and Environmental

Gardiner v Hertsmere Borough Council (2022) EWCA Civ 1162 raises a question of statutory interpretation about the exemption from liability for “self-build” housing development under Regs 54A and 54B of the CIL Regs. The question is whether that exemption is available when planning per is granted retrospectively for such development. The answer is that it is not.

 

Age Assessments

July 25th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Social Care

In every case, when deciding whether an age assessment has been conducted consistent with the requirement of fairness, there is no substitute for testing the matter against the basic principle, by reference to (1) the circumstances of the case under consideration, and (2) whether (a)  the decision rested on reasonable investigation and (b) the investigation was undertaken fairly. So emphasized Swift J in HAM v Brent LBC (2022) EWHC 1924 ( Admin ). He added that the investigation requirement is likely to focus on whether any interview with the person was conducted to permit him  (i) properly  to contribute, and (ii) properly to respond to matters going to his credibility which the local authority considers weigh against his contention to be a child.

 

Extinguishment of Public Right Of Way

July 20th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Environment, Highways and Leisure

Trail Riders v SoS (2022) EWHC 1804 ( Admin ) concerns extinguishment of a public right of way under Section 67(1) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and the exceptions in Section 67(2). Syeyn J said that the exceptions should not be construed restrictively.

In relation to Section 67(2) (a) what was required was a factual assessment of whether the main lawful use by the public of the route during the 5 year period to 2 May 2006 was for mechanically propelled vehicles or not. The word “ main “ denoted chief or predominant use. The statutory provision did not direct the decision-maker as to the factors that should be taken into account. In making an assessment the character of the way was not a mandatory relevant consideration.