Regina v Cripps; Ex parte Muldoon: QBD 1983

The election commissioner, Mr Anthony Cripps QC, had purported to explain many months later what he had meant in an order for costs which he had made when handing down his judgment on an election petition. It was argued that he had had the power to do so under the slip rule (a power conferred on the High Court by Ord. 20 r. 11 of the Rules of the Supreme Court), which was a power which had been conferred on him by sections 115(6) and 110(2) of the 1949 Act. The Court was asked to determine whether or not an election court is an inferior tribunal. Having referred to certain cases, Goff LJ observed that it was difficult to extract any precise principle from them and then observed: ‘The most that can be said is that it is necessary to look at all the relevant features of the tribunal in question including its constitution, jurisdiction and powers and its relationship with the High Court in order to decide whether the tribunal should properly be regarded as inferior to the High Court, so that its activities may appropriately be the subject of judicial review by the High Court . . there is an underlying policy in the case of tribunals of limited jurisdiction, whether limited by area, subject matter or otherwise, that unless the tribunal in question should properly be regarded in all the circumstances as having a status so closely equivalent to the High Court that the exercise of power of judicial review by the High Court is for that reason inappropriate, it is in the public interest that remedies by way of judicial review by the High Court should be available to persons aggrieved;’
‘We accept that the powers of a judge of the High Court include the power to operate the slip rule. However, there must be doubt whether this power was conferred on Mr Cripps under section 115(6) of the Act for the purpose in question. For, once he had made his order, the election court which consisted of him was functus officio and had ceased to exist. Of course, where a High Court judge sitting in the High Court exercises his power under the slip rule to correct accidental errors, he can do so because, although his order has been drawn up, the High Court has not ceased to exist. He can therefore exercise the jurisdiction under R.S.C., Ord. 20, r.11, which is vested in the High Court as such; indeed, it appears to us, if in any particular case the trial judge was not available (for example, because he had died) after the drawing up of the order, another judge of the High Court could exercise the power of the High Court under the slip rule to correct an accidental error. It appears that when an election court has ceased to exist the exercise of powers under the slip rule to correct accidental errors should be made not by the barrister who formerly constituted the election court, but by the High Court by virtue of its powers under section 137(3) of the Act of 1949 . . ‘

Robert Goff LJ, mann J
[1983] 3 WLR 465, [1984] QB 68, [1983] 3 All ER 72
Representation of the People Act 1949 110(2) 115(6)
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromRegina v Cripps; Ex parte Muldoon CA 1984
The Elections Commissioner had sought, some time after his order on a petition, to clarify the order from costs.
Held: The Commissioner, and in turn Keith J, had been wrong to consider themselves not bound by Muldoon. What Mr Cripps (the . .
CitedThe Conservative and Unionist Party v The Election Commissioner CA 23-Nov-2010
A losing candidate at a local election alleged corrupt and illegal practices relating to the entry of non-existent people on the electoral roll and using postal votes. The Election Commissioner found this proved and the election void, and awarded . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 13 December 2021; Ref: scu.654117