Sunday, June 20, 2010

Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223

The test laid down in this case, in all three limbs, is known as "the Wednesbury test". The term "Wednesbury unreasonableness" is used to describe the third limb, of being so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could have decided that way. This case or the principle laid down is cited in United Kingdom courts as a reason for courts to be hesitant to interfere into the decisions of administrative law bodies.
In recent times, particularly as a result of the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998, the judiciary have resiled from this strict abstentionist approach, recognising that in certain circumstances it is necessary for them to undertake a more searching review of administrative decisions. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights now require the reviewing court to subject the original decision to "anxious scrutiny" whether an administrative measure infringes a Convention right. In order to justify such an intrusion, the Respondents will have to show that it pursued a "pressing social need" and that the means employed to achieve this were proportionate to the limitation of the right.

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