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R v Lewisham LBC ex parte Shell

[1988] 1 All ER 938

Case summary last updated at 05/01/2020 18:17 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Lewisham LBC ex parte Shell

Under the duty demanded of it under the RRA to promote good race relations, a council decided to use its discretion to boycott companies trading in SA. QBD said that the decision was NOT Wednesbury unreasonable as the RRA duty was clear and it was not a decision at which no reasonable authority would arrive. However, since the purpose of the decision had been to exert pressure on the company to sever all trading links with South Africa and was inextricably mixed up with any wish to improve race relations in the borough and since the group's policy towards South Africa was not unlawful, it followed that the council's decision had been influenced by an extraneous and impermissible purpose, which vitiated the decision as a whole. 
Neill LJ: He interprets the Wheeler case as saying that “though the scope of s 71 of the 1976 Act is wide and embraces all the activities of the council, a council cannot use its statutory powers in order to punish a body or person who has done nothing contrary to English law. Nor can a council exercise its statutory powers in a way which involves some procedural impropriety or some unfairness towards a body or person who has acted reasonably and in no way in a hostile attitude towards the council.” It was enough that the purpose of stopping Shell trading in SA was a “substantial” reason. 

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