Padfield v Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: HL 14 Feb 1968

Exercise of Ministerial Discretion

The Minister had power to direct an investigation in respect of any complaint as to the operation of any marketing scheme for agricultural produce. Milk producers complained about the price paid by the milk marketing board for their milk when compared with prices paid to producers in other regions. The Minister refused to appoint a committee.
Held: The Minister was under a duty to give proper consideration to the question whether to refer the complaint, and any such decision had to be based on good reasons, and consistent with the statutory purpose. The Minister had a discretion so that the real question was how far it was subject to judicial control.
Having summarised the four conventional heads under which the exercise of such a discretion may be attacked, Lord Upjohn said: ‘In practice they merge into one another and ultimately it becomes a question whether for one reason or another the Minister has acted unlawfully in the sense of misdirecting himself in law, that is, not merely in respect of some point of law but by failing to observe the other headings I have mentioned. In the circumstances of this case, which I have sufficiently detailed for this purpose, it seems to me quite clear that prima facie there seems a case for investigation by the committee of investigation. As I have said already, it seems just the type of situation for which the machinery of section 19 was set up, but that is a matter for the Minister. He may have good reasons for refusing an investigation, he may have, indeed, good policy reasons for refusing it . . So I must examine the reasons given by the Minister, including any policy on which they may be based, to see whether he has acted unlawfully and thereby overstepped the true limits of his discretion, or as it is frequently said in the prerogative writ cases, exceeded his jurisdiction. Unless he has done so, the court has no jurisdiction to interfere.’ Lord Upjohn then proceeded to consider the Minister’s various reasons individually and in detail.

Lord Upjohn, Lord Reid, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Hodson, Lord Pearce
[1968] AC 997, [1968] UKHL 1, [1968] 1 All ER 694, [1968] 2 WLR 924
Agricultural Marketing Act 1958
England and Wales
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CitedAssociated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation CA 10-Nov-1947
Administrative Discretion to be Used Reasonably
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Cited by:
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The council as highway authority had objected to a development on the grounds of road safety. The application was subsequently approved by the Secretary of State, but the Council sought to maintain its safety objection.
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AppliedRegina v Braintree District Council, ex parte Malcolm William Halls CA 1-Mar-2000
When selling a house to its tenant under the right to buy legislation, the council had imposed a restrictive covenant preventing the new owner developing the land by further building. The purchaser later approached the council for its release so as . .
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CitedModaresi, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Health SC 24-Jul-2013
The Court was asked: ‘As: (i) a public body with obligations in public law and (ii) a public authority under the Human Rights Act 1998 can the Secretary of State for Health ‘the S/S’ lawfully refuse to refer a patient’s case to the First-tier Mental . .
CitedMcEldowney v Forde HL 18-Jun-1969
The House was asked whether the Magistrates had properly dismissed a charge of membership of an unlawful organisation, namely a Republican club. The Magistrates had found that an unlawful club would only be such if it supported the absorption of . .
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The appellant, an Iraqi national had arrived in 2000 as a child, and stayed unlawfully after failure of his asylum claim. He was convicted twice of drugs offences. On release he was considered a low risk of re-offending. He had been in a serious . .
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No Administrative Duty of Equal Treatment
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Judicial Review, Administrative, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.187347