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R v Hillingdon L B C ex parte Puhlhofer

[1986] 1 AC 484 (HL)

Case summary last updated at 07/01/2020 18:55 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Hillingdon L B C ex parte Puhlhofer

Ps claimed to be “homeless” under the Housing Act which would entitle them to be given LA “accommodation”, and therefore requested to be given accommodation by the LA, who refused. They sought judicial review. HL found for the LA. It held that “homelessness” was a question of fact that could encompass a broad range of situations and that it was for the DM, not the court, to decide if it existed, unless DM made an obviously perverse decision. 
 
Lord Brightman: “Where the existence or non-existence of a fact is left to the judgment and discretion of a public body and that fact involves a broad spectrum ranging from the obvious to the debatable to the just conceivable, it is the duty of the court to leave the decision of that fact to the public body to whom Parliament has entrusted the decision-making power save in a case where it is obvious that the public body, consciously or unconsciously, are acting perversely”. Similar idea of deference as was deployed in South Yorkshire Transport except that there they said the question was one of jurisdiction, but broad leeway would be given, whereas in Puhlhofer the HL held that it was not a precondition of exercising power (i.e. jurisdictional) unless the DM did something obviously wrong. 

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