Merricks and Another v Nott-Bower: CA 1964

The plaintiff police officers had been disciplined by transfer in 1957 as a result of a report by an officer who was subsequently discredited. After their accuser was discredited they sought a declaration that the disciplinary action taken against them had been taken contrary to natural justice.
Held: Lord Denning MR said that: ‘It is asked: what use can such declarations be at this stage, when the transfer took place six and a half years ago? What good does it do now? There can be no question of reopening the transfers . . on this point we have been referred to a number of cases which show how greatly the power to grant a declaration has been widened in recent years. If a real question is involved, which is not merely theoretical, and on which the court’s gives practical guidance, then the court in its discretion can grant a declaration.’ and ‘Such being the case made, I am not prepared to say that it is unarguable. It is a well-known principle of our law that any powers conferred by statute or regulation on an executive or administrative authority must be exercised in good faith for the purpose for which they are granted. They must not be misused or abused by being applied to an ulterior purpose. Whether that principle applies here or not, I do not say; all I do say is that, if the plaintiffs allege, as they did that this was a misuse of the power of transfer that it was used, not for the purpose of good administration and efficiency but for the motive of punishment they have an arguable case which they are entitled to have tried by the courts.’


Lord Denning MR


[1964] 1 All ER 717, [1965] 1 QB 57, [1965] 2 WLR 702

Cited by:

CitedWilliams v Home Office (No 2) 2-Jan-1981
The plaintiff prisoner had been transferred from ordinary prison to a special control unit which had been established at the prison as a means of containing and controlling prisoners who were considered to be troublemakers and inducing them to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Administrative

Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.374246