Regina v Department of Education and Employment ex parte Begbie: CA 20 Aug 1999

A statement made by a politician as to his intentions on a particular matter if elected could not create a legitimate expectation as regards the delivery of the promise after elected, even where the promise would directly affect individuals, and the costs of a child’s education. Any consequences of a failure to keep a promise must remain political, not legal ones. The Court commented that abuse ‘informs all three categories of legitimate expectation case as they have been expounded by this court.’ By the time of the decision, the Secretary of State was bound by the policy statement only, and not by pre-election promises, or a mistaken letter. Though the policy gave rise to some anomalies, it was not irrational. There was no enforceable obligation on the respondent under human rights law to provide financial support for any particular from of education.
Laws LJ said: ‘abuse of power has become, or is fast becoming, the root concept which governs and conditions our general principles of public law’. As to this case: ‘If there has been an abuse of power, I would grant appropriate relief unless an overriding public interest is shown, and none to my mind has been demonstrated. But the real question in the case is whether there has been an abuse of power at all. The government’s policy was misrepresented through incompetence. It is not in truth a change of policy at all.’ He described ‘a sliding scale of review, more or less intrusive according to the nature and gravity of what is at stake.’
and ‘I have no difficulty with the proposition that in cases where Government has made known how it intends to exercise powers which affect the public at large it may be held to its word irrespective of whether the applicant had been relying specifically upon it. The legitimate expectation in such a case is that the Government will behave towards its citizens as it says it will.’
Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘In my judgment it would be wrong to understate the significance of reliance in this area of the law. It is very much the exception, rather than the rule, that detrimental reliance will not be present when the Court finds unfairness in the defeating of a legitimate expectation.’
Sedley LJ said that there were ‘cogent objections to the operation of undisclosed policies affecting individuals’ entitlements or expectations’ and that they had no difficulty in accepting this as (no more than) a statement ‘of good administrative practice’.

Laws LJ, Peter Gibson LJ, Sedley LJ
Times 14-Sep-1999, Gazette 15-Sep-1999, [1999] EWCA Civ 2100, [2000] 1 WLR 1115, [2000] Ed CR 140, [2000] ELR 445
European Convention on Human Rights 2
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Liverpool Corporation ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operators Association CA 1972
A number of taxi cab owners challenged a decision of the Council to increase the numbers of hackney cabs operating in the city. At a public meeting with the council prior to the decision, the chairman had given a public undertaking that the numbers . .
CitedAttorney General of Hong Kong v Ng Yuen Shiu PC 21-Feb-1983
An illegal entrant into Hong Kong claimed that he was entitled by a legitimate expectation to a hearing before a deportation order might be made against him, there having been an announcement that persons in the respondent’s position would be . .
CitedBromley London Borough Council v Greater London Council HL 17-Dec-1981
Councillors’ Duties replace Election Promises
Bromley complained of a supplementary precept issued by the respondent to implement a commitment, contained in an election manifesto for the election in May 1979, upon which the majority on the GLC had been elected.
Held: In making choices of . .
CitedIn Re Findlay, in re Hogben HL 1985
A public authority, and the Prison Service in particular, is free, within the limits of rationality, to decide on any policy as to how to exercise its discretions; it is entitled to change its policy from time to time for the future, and a person . .
CitedCouncil of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service HL 22-Nov-1984
Exercise of Prerogative Power is Reviewable
The House considered an executive decision made pursuant to powers conferred by a prerogative order. The Minister had ordered employees at GCHQ not to be members of trades unions.
Held: The exercise of a prerogative power of a public nature . .
CitedRegina v Devon County Council Ex Parte Baker, Regina v Durham County Council Ex Parte Broxson CA 22-Feb-1993
A Local Authority considering closing a residential home did not have a duty to notify and consult with each resident who might be affected, but did have a duty to act fairly, and to give sufficiently prominent notice and sufficient time to allow . .
Appeal fromRegina v Department for Education and Employment ex parte Begbie Admn 12-Jul-1999
The claimant had been given an assisted place. The support was withdrawn and she sought to hold the respondent to his promise to continue support after the scheme had ended for those already receiving help. . .
CitedRelating to certain aspects of the laws on the use of languages in education in Belgium (Belgian Linguistics) No 2 ECHR 9-Feb-1967
The applicants, parents of more than 800 Francophone children, living in certain (mostly Dutch-speaking) parts of Belgium, complained that their children were denied access to an education in French.
Held: In establishing a system or regime to . .
CitedX v United Kingdom ECHR 1978
(Commission) In the context of the second sentence of Article 2, ‘there is no positive obligation on the State in relation to the second sentence . . to subsidise any particular form of education in order to respect the religions and philosophical . .
CitedRegina v Director of Public Prosecutions ex parte Kebilene etc Admn 30-Mar-1999
The applicants sought, by means of the Human Rights Act to challenge the way in which the decision had been made that they should be prosecuted under the 1989 Act, arguing that section 6(2) was inconsistent with the new Act.
Held: The Act . .
CitedRegina v Cain 1976
Part of the duty of the Crown Prosecution service in deciding upon a prosecution is to avoid prosecutions which are oppressive as regards a defendant. . .
CitedRegina v Manchester Crown Court and Ashton and Others, ex parte Director of Public Prosecutions HL 7-May-1993
A Crown Court decision to stay an indictment for lack of jurisdiction, was not susceptible to Judicial Review. This was a ‘decision affecting conduct of trial’. The House considered the meaning of the phrase ‘other than its jurisdiction in matters . .
CitedC (A Minor) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 17-Mar-1995
The House considered whether the long established rule of the criminal law presuming that a child did not have a guilty mind should be set aside.
Held: Doli incapax, the presumption of a child’s lack of mens rea, is still effective and good . .
CitedRegina v Bedwellty Justices Ex Parte Williams HL 18-Sep-1996
A decision at committal to return an accused for trial is susceptible to judicial review where committal was based solely on inadmissible evidence or was based on evidence not reasonably capable of supporting it. The committal was quashed.
The . .
CitedRegina v North and East Devon Health Authority ex parte Coughlan and Secretary of State for Health Intervenor and Royal College of Nursing Intervenor CA 16-Jul-1999
Consultation to be Early and Real Listening
The claimant was severely disabled as a result of a road traffic accident. She and others were placed in an NHS home for long term disabled people and assured that this would be their home for life. Then the health authority decided that they were . .

Cited by:
CitedRowland v The Environment Agency CA 19-Dec-2003
The claimant owned a house by the river Thames at Hedsor Water. Public rights of navigation existed over the Thames from time immemorial, and its management lay with the respondent. Landowners at Hedsor had sought to assert that that stretch was now . .
CitedRashid, Regina (on the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Home Department Admn 22-Oct-2004
The claimant sought asylum, being an Iraqi Kurd. He was not told by the defendant of its policy not to require internal relocation within the Kurdish autonomous zone. The policy had been applied for the benefit of others, as was revealed only in . .
CitedRashid, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 16-Jun-2005
The Home Secretary appealed against a grant of a judicial review to the respondent who had applied for asylum. The court had found that two other asylum applicants had been granted leave to remain on similar facts and on the appellants, and that it . .
CitedRegina (Nadarajah) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Abdi v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 22-Nov-2005
The asylum applicant challenged a certificate given by the respondent that the claim for asylum was manifestly ill-founded. The respondent had made a mistake in applying the appropriate policy, but had sought to correct the error. The claimants . .
CitedLindley, Regina (on the Application of) v Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council Admn 21-Sep-2006
The claimant, aged 69 suffered from cerebral palsy. The council had provided his care but he said they had represented to him that care would be provided in a new facility, and claimed a legitimate expectation. The defendant said that its changed . .
CitedBancoult, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) HL 22-Oct-2008
The claimants challenged the 2004 Order which prevented their return to their homes on the Chagos Islands. The islanders had been taken off the island to leave it for use as a US airbase. In 2004, the island was no longer needed, and payment had . .
CitedEM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 22-Oct-2008
The claimant challenged the respondent’s decision to order the return of herself and her son to Lebanon.
Held: The test for whether a claimant’s rights would be infringed to such an extent as to prevent their return home was a strict one, but . .
CitedOxfam v Revenue and Customs ChD 27-Nov-2009
The charity appealed against refusal to allow it to reclaim input VAT. It also sought judicial review of the decision of the Tribunal not to allow it to raise an argument of legitimate expectation. The charity had various subsidiaries conducting . .
CitedAzam and Co v Legal Services Commission ChD 5-May-2010
The claimant solicitors had failed to submit their tender for a new contract in time. The respondent refused to accept the late submission. The claimant said that the respondent had not directly notified it of the deadline and so failed to meet its . .
CitedSecretary of State for The Home Department v Pankina CA 23-Jun-2010
Each claimant had graduated from a tertiary college and wished to stay on in the UK. They challenged the points based system for assessing elgibility introduced in 2008 after they had commenced their studies. The new rules tightened the criteria for . .
CitedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedBubb v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 9-Nov-2011
The appellant had sought housing assistance. She had been offered accomodation but refused it as unreasonable. The authority declined further assistance. She now appealed against the refusal of the county court judge to set aside the decision . .
CitedWheeler, Regina (on the Application of) v Office of the Prime Minister and Another Admn 2-May-2008
The applicant sought leave to bring judicial review of the prime minister’s decsion not to hold a referendum on the ratification of the treaty of Lisbon.
Held: The claimant had arguable points under the 2000 Act and otherwise, and permission . .
CitedGallaher Group Ltd and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Competition and Markets Authority SC 16-May-2018
No Administrative Duty of Equal Treatment
Extent and consequences of duties of ‘equal treatment’ or ‘fairness’, said to have been owed by the Office of Fair Trading to those subject to investigation under the Competition Act 1998. The respondent had entered negotiations with several parties . .
CitedFinucane, Re Application for Judicial Review SC 27-Feb-2019
(Northern Ireland) The deceased solicitor was murdered in his home in 1989, allegedly by loyalists. They had never been identified, though collusion between security forces and a loyalist paramilitary was established. The ECHR and a judge led . .

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Administrative, Education, Human Rights, Judicial Review

Leading Case

Updated: 16 January 2022; Ref: scu.147015