Regina 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 service complaint had been dismissed and in his application for judicial review he challenged the procedure which the Panel had adopted including not holding an oral hearing.
Taylor LJ said: ‘The hearing does not necessarily have to be an oral hearing in all cases. There is ample authority that decision-making bodies other than courts and bodies whose procedures are laid down by statute, are masters of their own procedure. Provided that they achieve the degree of fairness appropriate to their task it is for them to decide how they will proceed and there is no rule that fairness always requires an oral hearing: see Local Government Board v. Arlidge [1915] A.C. 120, 132-133; Reg. v. Race Relations Board, Ex parte Selvarajan [1975] 1 W.L.R. 1686, 1694B-D and Reg. v. Immigration Appeal Tribunal, Ex parte Jones (Ross) [1988] 1 W.L.R. 477, 481B-G. Whether an oral hearing is necessary will depend upon the subject matter and circumstances of the particular case and upon the nature of the decision to be made. It will also depend upon whether there are substantial issues of fact which cannot be satisfactorily resolved on the available written evidence. This does not mean that whenever there is a conflict of evidence in the statements taken, an oral hearing must be held to resolve it. Sometimes such a conflict can be resolved merely by the inherent unlikelihood of one version or the other. Sometimes the conflict is not central to the issue for determination and would not justify an oral hearing. Even when such a hearing is necessary, it may only require one or two witnesses to be called and cross-examined.’

Taylor LJ, Morland J
[1992] QB 169, [1991] 3 All ER 375, [1991] 3 WLR 42
England and Wales
CitedLocal 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 . .
CitedRegina v Race Relations Board, Ex parte Selvarajan CA 1975
Lord Denning MR said: ‘In recent years we have had to consider the procedure of many bodies who are required to make an investigation and form an opinion . . In all these cases it has been held that the investigating body is under a duty to act . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Armed Forces, Discrimination, Natural Justice

Leading Case

Updated: 12 January 2022; Ref: scu.539816