Regina v Secretary of State for Health, ex parte United States Tobacco International Inc: CA 1991

The applicant company produced oral snuff. It had opened a factory in the United Kingdom after the Government, on advice, had negotiated an agreement with it to restrict the marketing of the product. The committee, basing itself not on new evidence but on a changed evaluation of the existing evidence, subsequently advised the Secretary of State to ban the product; and the Secretary of State, without disclosing the advice to the company, laid regulations banning the product before Parliament.
Held: The Secretary of State had a duty to consult the company and had acted unfairly in failing to disclose the committee’s advice. The advice was ‘crucial.
Taylor LJ said: ‘One cannot help feeling that the denial of the applicants’ request was due to an inbuilt reluctance to give reasons or disclose advice lest it give opponents fuel for argument. One can understand and respect the need for ministers to preserve confidentiality as to the in-house advice they receive on administrative and political issues from their civil service staff. But here, the advice was from a body of independent experts set up to advise the Secretary of State on scientific matters I can see no ground in logic or reason for declining to show the applicants the text of the advice. In view of the total change of policy the Regulations would bring about and its unique impact on the applicants, fairness demanded that they should be treated with candour. To conceal from them the scientific advice which directly led to the ban was, in my judgment, unfair and unlawful.’
As to the argument that the Regulations were made for the purpose of protecting health and therefore fell outside the scope of enabling legislation concerned with consumer protection, he said that the legislation was ‘apt to protect the consumer whether one calls its purpose consumer protection or public health’.

Taylor LJ
[1992] QB 353, [1991] 3 WLR 529, [1992] 1 All ER 212
Consumer Protection Act 1987
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedEisai Ltd, Regina (on the Application of) v National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Shire Pharmaceuticals Limited and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (Interveners) CA 1-May-2008
The applicant pharmaceutical companies challenged the decision of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to to list certain drugs saying that the procedure adopted was unfair. NICE had revealed that results of calculations it had made . .
CitedImperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate SC 12-Dec-2012
The claimant company said that the 2010 Act was outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament insofar as it severely restricted the capacity of those selling cigarettes to display them for sale. They suggested two faults. First, that the subject . .
CitedBank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury (No 2) SC 19-Jun-2013
The bank challenged measures taken by HM Treasury to restrict access to the United Kingdom’s financial markets by a major Iranian commercial bank, Bank Mellat, on the account of its alleged connection with Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.267527