March 22nd, 2023 by James Goudie KC

Familiar principles in relation to consultation are restated in R (BETTER STREETS FOR KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA) v KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA RLBC (2023) EWHC 536 (Admin), in which it is held that there was no duty on the local authority to consult before deciding whether to reinstate temporary cycle lanes that it had removed.

The Court would be cautious about inferring that a duty to consult had arisen in the case of a democratically elected public authority (para 37). A duty to consult might arise where there had been an established practice of consultation, or where, in exceptional circumstances, not consulting would lead to conspicuous unfairness (para 38).

Even where, in a rare case, a common law duty to consult arose, the authority would have considerable leeway to decide the nature of the consultation exercise (para 39). A finding that a consultation exercise was unlawful by reason of unfairness would be based on a finding that something had gone clearly and radically wrong (para 40). An action founded on alleged breach of promise had to demonstrate not just a broken promise but also unfairness amounting to an abuse of power (para 44).

In deciding whether anything had gone wrong, a Court would have regard to the GUNNING/COUGHLAN/MOSELEY criteria (paras 41-43 inc and 47).

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