Kruse v Johnson: QBD 16 May 1898

The validity of a by-law prohibiting the playing of music in a public place within fifty yards of any dwelling after being requested by a constable or resident of that dwelling to desist was upheld. A private citizen taxed with a criminal charge which is unfounded, because based upon an ultra vires byelaw or administrative decision, may challenge that decision. Where an authority which is clothed with statutory powers orders something to be done and accompanies this with some sanction or penalty for a failure to do it, this restricts the freedom of action by persons who are affected by it, who would otherwise be free to do as they pleased. Legislation of this kind ought to be supported if possible, looking to the character of the body which is legislating, the subject matter and the nature and extent of the authority which is given to the body to legislate in matters of this kind.
Lord Russell of Killowen said as to powers exercised by private bodies: ‘the court should jealously watch the exercise of these powers, and guard against their unnecessary or unreasonable exercise to the public disadvantage, bearing in mind that their primary purpose is to make money for its shareholders’.
He defined a by-law as: ‘an ordinance affecting the public, or some portion of the public, imposed by some authority clothed with statutory powers ordering something to be done or not to be done, and accompanied by some sanction or penalty for its non-observance.’
As to by-laws, he said that: ‘an oppressive, gratuitous interference with personal rights and freedoms devoid of rational justification would be unreasonable and ultra vires but a by-law was not unreasonable ‘merely because particular judges may think that it goes further than is prudent or necessary or convenient, or because it is not accompanied by a qualification or an exception which some judges may think ought to be there” and ‘[when] called upon to consider the by-laws of public representative bodies clothed with . . ample authority . . and exercising that authority accompanied by . . checks and safeguards . . the consideration of such by-laws ought to be approached from a different standpoint. They ought to be supported if possible. They ought to be, as has been said, ‘benevolently’ interpreted and credit ought to be given to those who have to administer them that they will be reasonably administered . . I think courts of justice ought to be slow to condemn as invalid any by-law so made under such conditions, on the ground of supposed unreasonableness.’
Mathew J (dissenting) included certainty among the conditions of validity of a by-law.

Lord Russell of Killowen CJ, Mathew J
[1898] 2 QB 91, [1895-99] All ER 105, [1898] UKLawRpKQB 101
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedRegina v Reading Crown Court, Ex parte Hutchinson QBD 1988
A defendant to a charge brought under a byelaw is entitled to raise the question of the validity of that byelaw in criminal proceedings before magistrates or the Crown Court, by way of defence. There was nothing in the statutory basis of the . .
CitedStewart v Perth and Kinross Council HL 1-Apr-2004
The claimant challenged refusal of a licence to sell second hand cars, saying that the licensing requirements imposed were outwith the Act under which they had been made. The licensing scheme imposed additional requirements.
Held: Though a . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ex parte Manelfi Admn 25-Oct-1996
The applicant sought judicial review of the defendant’s refusal to employ him to work at GCHQ, which had a policy not to employ anyone with non-British parents save exceptionally. The claimant said this was racially discriminatory.
Held: The . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions and Heathrow Airport Limited ex parte Brian Scott and others Admn 30-Mar-1999
The appellants were taxi drivers who said that the byelaw under which they were convicted was invalid, saying that they had not been properly advertised.
Held: ‘the degree of availability of the byelaws is not a reason for impugning the . .
CitedNewhaven Port and Properties Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v East Sussex County Council and Another SC 25-Feb-2015
The court was asked: ‘whether East Sussex County Council . . was wrong in law to decide to register an area . . known as West Beach at Newhaven . . as a village green pursuant to the provisions of the Commons Act 2006. The points of principle raised . .
CitedBroads Authority v Fry Admn 5-Nov-2015
The boat owner had charged tolls against the respondent boat owner. He failed to pay saying that his vessel being moored at a private mooring on ‘adjacent water’ he was not liable. His appeal against his conviction had succeeded at the Crown Court, . .
CitedMajera, Regina (on The Application of v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 20-Oct-2021
The Court was asked whether the Government can lawfully act in a manner which is inconsistent with an order of a judge which is defective, without first applying for, and obtaining, the variation or setting aside of the order. The appellant had been . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Administrative, Crime, Local Government

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.187071