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McInnes v Onslow-Fane

[1978] 1 WLR 1520

Case summary last updated at 07/01/2020 11:47 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case McInnes v Onslow-Fane

The P had been granted a boxing manager's licence for several years. He appealed its refusal now, since he had not been given a hearing or been given reasons for its refusal. Held: That since this case did not involve forfeiture of an existing right nor legitimate expectations, although the respondent was obliged to act honestly and not in an arbitrary manner, it was not obliged to give reasons or an oral hearing. 
Megarry VC: "I think that the courts must be slow to allow an implied obligation to be fair to be used as a means of bringing before the court for review honest decisions of bodies exercising jurisdiction over sporting and other activities which those bodies are far better fitted to judge than the courts. This is so even where those bodies are concerned with the means of livelihood of those who take part in those activities. The concepts of natural justice and the duty to be fair must not be allowed to discredit themselves by making unreasonable requirements and imposing undue burdens. Bodies such as the board, which promote a public interest by seeking to maintain high standards in a field of activity, which otherwise might easily become degraded and corrupt, ought not to be hampered in their work without good cause." 
NB Megarry VC tests a “natural justice” based claim in 3 stages: (1) is the decision subject to any requirements of natural justice or fairness which will be enforced by the courts? (2) What type of decision is in question? Forfeiture (of an existing right); Application (for a new position); Application with Legitimate Expectation (e.g. where the application has been granted in the past). (3) What is the standard of natural justice or “fairness” required for the type in question? He says that the further a decision comes from being a judicial decision the lesser the standard of fairness imposed will be. Hence pure applications will require less “fairness” than deprivation cases. 

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