Regina ex parte Bhatt Murphy and Others v The Independent Assessor: Admn 26 Jun 2007

The claimants sought judicial review of changes to the schemes for the compensation for victims of miscarriages of justce.
Held: The application was refused.
May LJ discussed the Code of Practice, saying: ‘The Introduction states that the Code and the criteria apply to all public consultations by government departments and agencies. Mr Swift submits, correctly in my view, that this means that the Code is to apply whenever it is decided as a matter of policy to have a public consultation; not that public consultation is a required prelude to every policy change. The Code states that it does not have legal force but should generally be regarded as binding on United Kingdom departments and their agencies unless Ministers conclude that exceptional circumstances require a departure from it. Ministers retain their existing discretion not to conduct a formal written consultation exercise under the terms of the Code, for example where the issue is very specialised and where there is a very limited number of so-called stakeholders who have been directly involved in the policy development process.
For the reasons given by Mr Swift, I do not consider that it is possible to read this document as any form of governmental promise or undertaking that policy changes will never be made without consultation. It would be very surprising if it could be so read, not least because a decision in a particular case whether to consult is itself a policy decision. Rather the Code prescribes how generally public consultation should be conducted if there is to be public consultation.’
May LJ and Gray J
Unreported, 26 June 2007
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromBhatt Murphy (a firm), Regina (on the application of) v The Independent Assessor CA 9-Jul-2008
The appellants each challenged alterations to the scheme for compensation of the victims of miscarriages of justice.
Held: Laws LJ emphasised the special nature of the promise or practice which was necessary to give rise to a substantive . .

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Updated: 26 January 2021; Ref: scu.536301