McC v Mullan; In re McC (A Minor): HL 1984

A statutory condition precluded magistrates from making the order they did unless a juvenile offender who was not legally represented had been refused legal aid, or had been informed of his right to apply for it but had refused or neglected to do so. These conditions had not been met and so the magistrates had no power to make the order. The conditions directly affected the jurisdiction to make the order.
Lord Bridge of Harwich said: ‘It is, of course, clear that the holder of any judicial office who acts in bad faith, doing what he knows he has no power to do, is liable in damages. If the Lord Chief Justice himself, on the acquittal of a defendant charged before him with a criminal offence, were to say: ‘That is a perverse verdict’, and thereupon proceed to pass a sentence of imprisonment, he could be sued for trespass. But, as Lord Esher MR said in Anderson v Gorrie: ‘the question arises whether there can be an action against a judge of a court of record for doing something within his jurisdiction, but doing it maliciously and contrary to good faith. By the common law of England it is the law that no such action will lie.’
and ‘The principle underlying this rule is clear. If one judge in a thousand acts dishonestly within his jurisdiction to the detriment of a party before him, it is less harmful to the health of society to leave that party without a remedy than that nine hundred and ninety nine honest judges should be harassed by vexatious litigation alleging malice in the exercise of their proper jurisdiction.’
Lord Bridge of Harwich
[1985] AC 528, [1984] 3 All ER 908, [1984] 3 WLR 1227, (1984) 81 Cr App R 54
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedBenham v United Kingdom ECHR 8-Feb-1995
Legal Aid was wrongfully refused where a tax or fine defaulter was liable to imprisonment, and the lack of a proper means enquiry, made imprisonment of poll tax defaulter unlawful. A poll tax defaulter had been wrongly committed to prison by . .
CitedMotorola Credit Corporation v Uzan and others (No 2) CA 12-Jun-2003
World-wide freezing orders had been made under the 1982 Act. The defendants were members of a Turkish family with substantial business interests in the telecommunications industry. In breach of orders made in the US some defendants had sought to . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 January 2021; Ref: scu.183517