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R v Home Secretary, ex parte Doody [1994] 1 AC 531

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 04/01/2024 07:01

Judgement for the case R v Home Secretary, ex parte Doody

Table Of Contents

  • There is no general duty on the Home Secretary to elect a minimum prison term that the judiciary have recommended to him, but that if he is to depart from that then he has to give reasons why.

  • Also, before making the decision, he has to allow the prisoner to make a written representation to him, in the knowledge of what the judiciary has recommended. 

Lord Mustill

I find in the more recent cases on judicial review a perceptible trend towards an insistence on greater openness.

The law does not at present recognise a general duty to give reasons for an administrative decision. Nevertheless, it is equally beyond question that such a duty may in appropriate circumstances be implied.

  • The factors set out in Cunningham guide us as to when this will be.

  • He contrasts the position of a prisoner who is convicted of a crime less than murder with one convicted of murder:

    • The former can measure his expectations based on a public tariff, hears his barrister addressing the judge and is given reasons for the final sentence by the judge.

    • The latter never even sees the home sec and has no dialogue with him, while there is no tariff and no reasons are given for explanation.

A distant oracle has spoken, and that is that.

  • This unequal treatment was clearly unfair. Furthermore, unless reasons are given, Plaintiff has no idea of whether the decision made is correct or not. 

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Administrative Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford an...