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Omissions And Liability Of Public Authorities Theory Notes

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Omissions and Liability of Public Authorities Theory Notes. Liability of Public Authorities. Public Law Element:


Lord Slynn - Barrett - discretion doesn't immediately mean no duty of care. It is on sliding scale.


Lord Wilberforce - Anns - policy sphere is where statute gives wide choices to PA whereas operational sphere is where statute gives powers to the PA to execute those other wider policy decisions. But yet still degree will come into it.


Lord Browne-Wilkinson - X and Others - effectively said if acts are of policy type (allocation of budget etc.) then claim for negligence fails. Then we ask if acts were within the discretion of the PA, were they Wednesbury/Irrational? [Interesting as most cases just look at discretion enquiry and policy/operational type enquiry as interchangeable tests for whether justiciable].


Lord Hoffmann - Stovin - Criticised policy/operational divide. Then applied Wednesbury differently - Lord BW applied to actual conduct (was what the PA did irrational?), while Hoffman applied it to the conduct the plaintiff alleged that the PA should have engaged in (would it be irrational to fail to do this?). Distinction clear on facts - irrational to overlook previous decision to move mound, yes -doesn't follow that it is irrational to take any other course, i.e. doesn't necessarily follow that it is irrational to fail to do what C claimed they should do.

Helllooooooooooooooooooo Adam ?
Policy Arguments for the Liability of Public Authorities in Negligence:

1. It could raise standards by deterring careless conduct (and by facilitating a public examination in court of what went wrong).

2. Without the possibility of private actions, public services are effectively rendered 'voluntary', since there may be no negative consequences if public authorities choose not to provide them.

3. If the point of public services is to prevent or remedy misfortunes that occur to people, financial compensation is one way of doing that i.e. it's an alternative (albeit less desirable) to the service intended to be provided.

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