This is an extract of our Retention Of Discretion Problem Question Notes document, which we sell as part of our Administrative Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Administrative Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Retention of Discretion 1 Delegation
Presumption Against Delegation
This presumption is based on the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.
Following Barnard v National Dock Labour Board, it appears that the more important the function, the less willing the courts are to find statutory permission for delegation, so the stronger the presumption against delegation - "While an administrative function can often be delegated, a judicial function rarely can be. No judicial tribunal can delegate its functions unless it is enabled to do so expressly or by necessary implication." On the facts, the local dock labour board's power to suspend a man could not lawfully be delegated to the port manager.
The rule is subject to the statute. For e.g., s 16(1) Localism Act expressly permits delegation:
"A Minister of the Crown may, to such extent and subject to such conditions as that Minister thinks fit, delegate to a permitted authority any of the Minister's eligible functions."
Delegation may arise in various forms.
Acting under dictation
Decision-makers are not allowed to act under the dictation of another entity as that amounts to delegation: Lavender v Minister of Housing and Local Government
There is a fine line between seeking guidance and acting under dictation. In PQs, mention that courts will consider the reality of the decision-making process, rather than its form. R
(New London College) v Home Secretary (2013). Facts: educational institutions had been conferred the power by HS to make certain judgments which affected one part of the application for student visas. Held: this was not delegation of HS's powers under
Immigration Rules to educational institutions. She had last word about leave to enter or remain; significant number of students who had been refused despite producing a CAS
shows HS retained her discretion. Grant of CAS was strong but inconclusive factor for student's application for leave to enter. Cf. Lavender v Minister of Housing and Local Government (1970). Facts: Minister of
Housing and Local Government practised a policy of withholding permission for gravel extraction 'unless Minister for Agriculture is not opposed'. Such a policy was not allowed in the statute. Held: Minister for Agriculture's role was decisive, he had been delegated the effective decision on any appeal where he objects.
Another corollary: rule against rubberstamping.
In the PQs, rubberstamping can be inferred from the facts - frequency of decision, decisionmaker seeking input from others or not, etc.
The Carltona Principle
The anti-sub-delegation principle is subject to a very large exception.
Carltona Ltd v Commissioners of Works (1943): "In the administration of government in this country the functions which are given to ministers…are functions so multifarious that no minister could ever personally attend to them... The duties imposed upon ministers and the powers given to ministers are normally exercised under the authority of the ministers by responsible officials of the department. Public business could not be carried on if that were not the case. Constitutionally, the decision of such an official is, of course, the decision of the minister. The minister is responsible. It is he who must answer before Parliament for anything that his officials have done under his authority, and, if for an important matter he selected an official of such junior standing that he could not be expected competently to perform the work, the minister would have to answer for that in
Parliament. The whole system of departmental organisation and administration is based on the view that ministers, being responsible to Parliament, will see that important duties are committed to experienced officials. If they do not do that, Parliament is the place where complaint must be made against them.
There are two ways of reconciling the anti-sub-delegation principle with the Carltona principle:
Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Administrative Law Notes.