Local Government Board v Arlidge: HL 1914

A right of appeal against the exercise of a statutory authority requires no general right to an oral hearing before an administrative decision maker, and a hearing on the papers may be perfectly fair for legal purposes.
Lord Shaw said: ‘The words ‘natural justice’ occur in arguments and sometimes in judicial pronouncements in such cases. My Lords, when a central administrative board deals with an appeal from a local authority it must do its best to act justly, and to reach just ends by just means. If a statute prescribes the means it must employ them. If it is left without express guidance it must still act honestly and by honest means. In regard to these certain ways and methods of judicial procedure may very likely be imitated; and lawyer-like methods may find especial favour from lawyers. But that the judiciary should presume to impose its own methods on administrative or executive officers is a usurpation. And the assumption that the methods of natural justice are ex necessitate those of Courts of justice is wholly unfounded. This is expressly applicable to steps of procedure or forms of pleading. In so far as the term ‘natural justice’ means that a result or process should be just, it is a harmless though it may be a high-sounding expression; in so far as it attempts to reflect the old jus naturale it is a confused and unwarranted transfer into the ethical sphere of a term employed for other distinctions; and, in so far as it is resorted to for other purposes, it is vacuous.’

Lord Shaw
[1915] AC 120, [1914-15] All ER 1, 30 TLR 672
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedRegina v Army Board of Defence Council, ex parte Anderson QBD 1991
Members of the Armed Forces who alleged discrimination did not have access to Industrial Tribunals. The only recourse was to make a service complaint which would then be considered by the Army Board. Anderson complained of race discrimination. His . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Administrative, Natural Justice

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.539817