The Test of Irrationality

October 13th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In Pantellerisco v SoS for Work & Pensions (2021) EWCA Civ 1454 Underhill LJ for the Court of Appeal says, at para 56, that the “degree of intensity” with which the Court will review the reasonableness of a public law act or decision “ varies “according to the “nature” of the decision in question, and, at para 57, that in the context of governmental decisions in the field of “social and economic policy” the administrative law test of unreasonableness is generally applied with “considerable care and caution.” The approach of the Courts is in general to accord a “high level of respect” to the judgment of public authorities in that field. This respects the “separation of powers” between the judiciary and the elected branches of government.

 

Harassment

September 29th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In Ashford Borough Council v Wilson (2021) EWHC 2542 (QB) the Borough Council and its Chief Executive sought on their own behalf and on behalf of the current and former officers, employees, councillors and agents of the Council, a final anti-harassment injunction against the Defendant, a large-scale landlord in Kent, pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 [“the 1997 Act”]. The Claimants’ complaints related, principally, to letters and emails sent by the Defendant.

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Fundamental Dishonesty in Relation to Claim

September 20th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

The central issue in Elgamal v Westminster City Council (2021) EWHC 2510 (Admin) was whether the Claimant had on the balance of probabilities been fundamentally dishonest in relation to his personal injury claim against the Council and accordingly the provisions of Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 were applicable. Jacobs J. said:-

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Abuse of Process

August 23rd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

A Court has power to strike out proceedings as an abuse of process in circumstances where the issues sought to be raised might have been dealt with in earlier proceedings: the Henderson v Henderson principle. In the Matter of S ( Children) (2021) EWCA Civ 1223 the Court of Appeal rules that this principle has no application in children’s proceedings.

 

Unjust Enrichment

August 10th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

The most common defences to restitution claims are limitation and change of position. How far does a defendant have to go in proving the irreversibility of the unjust enrichment for the purposes of the change of position defence? Not so far as to pursue litigation in mitigation of loss if there is “little chance of recovery”. See paragraph 76 in Atkinson v Varma (2021) EWHC 2027 (Ch).

 

Legal Professional Privilege

August 5th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In assessing a FoIA request the in-built “significant weight” to be afforded to LPP is something to be considered in any event. It is not necessary for the party claiming LPP to demonstrate any specific prejudice or harm from the specific disclosure of the documents in question, or to establish either that Council officials would be inhibited from seeking advice if disclosure were made in the case or that advisers would be less likely to provide frank advice. Significant weight needs to be given to the public interest in maintaining LPP.  This does not mean that the LPP exemption is  absolute. All will depend on the public interest factors weighed in the balance. Disclosure is always a possibility which depends on public interest factors which are not in the control of decision-makers and their advisers, but an authority will most often be entitled to obtain legal advice on an issue and to rely on LPP to withhold it even when a request is made under FoIA. That is because of the built-in public interest in maintaining LPP. See FTT at paragraphs 31-35 inclusive in Murray-Smith v Information Commissioner, EA/2021/0039V, 4 August 2021.

 

Policy Challenges

August 2nd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In R (A) v SSHD (2021) UKSC 13 the Supreme Court sets out the test for assessing the lawfulness of a policy. That is whether the policy authorises or approves unlawful conduct by those to whom it is directed. There is no requirement for a policy to constitute a comprehensive statement of the law. It may be sufficient to identify broad categories of cases. It is not necessary to Eli I ate every potential legal certainty arising from the detailed application of the guidance. What matters is that the content is not misleading.

The Supreme Court also states that there is no free-standing ground of challenge of unacceptable risk of illegality.

 

Irrationality

July 26th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

To be unreasonable in the public law sense a decision must be irrational or outside the range of reasonable responses open to the decision-maker. The intensity of review may differ, but irrationality always presents a high hurdle. A rare example in which irrationality is found in a number of respects is provided by R (GB of Yew Tree Primary School) v SoS for Education (2021) EWHC 2084 (Admin). The Judge was especially critical of the SOS’s treatment of the approach and evidence of the local authority. A suggestion of bad faith or bias on the part of the authority unsupported by evidence was irrational. The case is the first successful challenge to a refusal to revoke an Academy Order.

 

Anonymity

July 26th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

Claimants wish to bring a claim against a Defendant for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of the Data Protection Act. Should the Claimants be granted anonymity? Should they be permitted to withhold their names and addresses when issuing their Claim Form? This was the principle question in Various Claimants v IPSA (2021) EWHC 2020 (QB). Nicklin J at para 33 refers to the “fundamental rule” of the common law that proceedings must generally be held in public. At para 34 he states that Orders that a party to a civil claim be anonymised in the proceedings and reporting restrictions prohibiting identification are “derogations” from the “principle of open justice”. At para 36 he states that the authorities make clear that derogations from open justice can be justified as ”necessary” on two principal grounds: (1) maintenance of the administration of justice; and (2) harm to other “legitimate interests”. The application for anonymity was refused: para 46.

 

Burden of Proof and Adverse Inferences

July 23rd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In Royal Mail Group v Efobi (2021) UKSC 33 the Supreme Court holds that (1) the change in the wording of equality legislation by Section 136 of the Equality Act 2010 has NOT altered the burden of proof in discrimination cases where discrimination is alleged, and (2) whether any positive significance should be attached to the fact that a person, including an actual decision-maker,  has not given evidence depends entirely on the context and particular circumstances and common sense, and not legal rules.