Regina v Broxtowe Borough Council ex parte Bradford: CA 2000

A tennis coach wanted employment with the borough council as a coach. It made inquiries of another council and found that he had been suspected of improper conduct towards young girls. It not only refused him a job but imposed a ban upon him teaching in their public tennis courts interfering with the existing and further jobs that he had obtained providing coaching on those courts to private individuals.
Held: The Court stated the principles: ‘Judicial Review is not concerned with technicalities in relation to the conduct of public bodies, it is concerned with ensuring justice. However, where an applicant for judicial review is denied a right to be heard which should have been granted to him, the courts should exercise considerable caution before concluding that the absence of the hearing has not resulted in any injustice. The correct approach in this situation was clearly indicated by Bingham LJ, as he then was, in R v The Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police ex parte Cotton [1990] IRLR 344. At p352, paragraph 60, Bingham LJ said: ”While cases may no doubt arise in which it can properly be held that denying the subject of a decision an adequate opportunity to put his case is not in all the circumstances unfair, I would expect these cases to be of great rarity. There are a number of reasons for this: ‘1. Unless the subject of the decision has had an opportunity to put his case it may not be easy to know what case he could or would have put if he had had the chance. ‘2. As memorably pointed out by Megarry J in John v Rees [1970] Ch 345 at p402, experience is by no means always that which happens. It is generally desirable that decision-makers should be reasonably receptive to argument, and it would therefore be unfortunate if the complainant’s position became weaker as the decision-maker’s mind became more closed. In considering whether the complainant’s representations would have made any difference to the outcome the court may unconsciously stray from its proper province of reviewing the propriety of the decision-making process into the forbidden territory of evaluating the substantial merits of a decision. This is a field in which appearances are generally thought to matter. Where a decision-maker is under a duty to act fairly the subject of the decision may properly be said to have a right to be heard, and rights are not to be lightly denied. The decision in that case was referred to the learned judge. It is apparent from his judgment that he had the guidance indicated in that paragraph of Bingham LJ’s judgment in mind when he gave his judgment. I recognise that, in relation to the matters to which I will turn, the council had a difficult task. They were under a heavy responsibility not to expose children in their locality unnecessarily to the risk of molestation. They are required to take all steps which are reasonably open to them to protect children from such conduct. However, they also have a responsibility not to use their position as a local authority to interfere with an individual’s right to earn his living without proper cause and without extending to the individual concerned the basic requirements of fairness. This case involved the responsibilities of the local authority in relation to the terms on which they allow their property to be used, that property being the tennis club. Ordinarily, a property owner is entitled to decide for entirely commercial or personal reasons what he or she is to permit to take place on that property. A local authority is in a different position from a normal landowner since, in determining what use is to be made of its property, it is exercising a statutory discretion. In the exercise of that statutory discretion, it must act in accordance with proper administrative standards. Those standards include an obligation to be reasonable and fair in the actions which the council takes which could have adverse consequence on third parties.’


Lord Woolf


[2000] IRLR 329


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedMontgomery, Regina (on the Application of) v Hertfordshire County Council Admn 2-Sep-2005
The applicant, a former senior employee sought review of an order banning her from all the respondent’s premises. She had left the employment after a settlement, but the order would make it impossible to continue the work she had later taken up.
CitedShoesmith, Regina (on The Application of) v OFSTED and Others CA 27-May-2011
The claimant appealed against dismissal of her claim. She had been head of Child Services at Haringey. After the notorious violent death of Baby P, the Secretary of State called for an inquiry under the Act. He then removed her as director. She . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Local Government

Updated: 13 May 2022; Ref: scu.230901