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R v Environment Secretary ex parte Hammersmith and Fulham LBC

[1991] 1 AC 521

Case summary last updated at 05/01/2020 17:52 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Environment Secretary ex parte Hammersmith and Fulham LBC

 The secretary of state had the power to “designate” and sanction LAs whose budgets were deemed excessive by him, by giving them less of a central govt grant. HL declined to interfere, saying that since what was “excessive” was a matter of political judgment, his actions were not open to challenge on grounds of irrationality short of bad faith, improper motive or manifest absurdity, none of which had been shown. What he deemed “unreasonable” was not open to challenge. 
 
Lord Bridge: Provided that the purpose of the statute is not frustrated by a minister’s actions, then the economic policy of the minister is not open to challenge for irrationality “short of the extremes of bad faith, improper motive or manifest absurdity”. He says that “Both the constitutional propriety and the good sense of this restriction seem to me to be clear enough.” This is deference because the courts are afraid of appearing to usurp the political judgment of the secretary of state.

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