Sunday, June 20, 2010

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

Judgment
The court held that it could not intervene to overturn the decision of the defendant corporation simply because the court disagreed with it. To have the right to intervene, the court would have to form the conclusion that:
the corporation, in making that decision, took into account factors that ought not to have been taken into account, or
the corporation failed to take account factors that ought to have been taken into account, or
the decision was so unreasonable that no reasonable authority would ever consider imposing it.
The court held that the condition did not fall into any of these categories. Therefore, the claim failed and the decision of the Wednesbury Corporation was upheld. According to Lord Greene MR,
“ It is true the discretion must be exercised reasonably. Now what does that mean? Lawyers familiar with the phraseology commonly used in relation to exercise of statutory discretions often use the word "unreasonable" in a rather comprehensive sense. It has frequently been used and is frequently used as a general description of the things that must not be done. For instance, a person entrusted with a discretion must, so to speak, direct himself properly in law. He must call his own attention to the matters which he is bound to consider. He must exclude from his consideration matters which are irrelevant to what he has to consider. If he does not obey those rules, he may truly be said, and often is said, to be acting "unreasonably." Similarly, there may be something so absurd that no sensible person could ever dream that it lay within the powers of the authority. Warrington LJ in Short v Poole Corporation [1926] Ch. 66, 90, 91 gave the example of the red-haired teacher, dismissed because she had red hair. That is unreasonable in one sense. In another sense it is taking into consideration extraneous matters. It is so unreasonable that it might almost be described as being done in bad faith; and, in fact, all these things run into one another.

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