Regina v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Nottinghamshire County Council: HL 12 Dec 1985

The House heard a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s assessment of the proper level of expenditure by a local authority.
Held: A ‘low intensity’ of review is applied to cases involving issues ‘depending essentially on political judgment’.
Lord Scarman said: ‘To sum it up, the levels of public expenditure and the incidence and distribution of taxation are matters for Parliament, and, within Parliament, especially for the House of Commons . . If a statute, as in this case, requires the House of Commons to approve a minister’s decision before he can lawfully enforce it, and if the action proposed complies with the terms of the statute . . it is not for the judges to say that the action has such unreasonable consequences that the guidance upon which the action is based and of which the House of Commons had notice was perverse and must be set aside. For that is a question of policy for the minister and the Commons, unless there has been bad faith or misconduct by the minister. Where Parliament has legislated that the action to be taken by the Secretary of State must, before it is taken, be approved by the House of Commons, it is no part of the judges’ role to declare that the action proposed is unfair, unless it constitutes an abuse of power in the sense which I have explained.’


Lord Scarman, Lord Roskill, Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Templeman, Lord Griffiths


[1986] AC 240, [1985] UKHL 8, [1986] 1 All ER 199, [1986] 2 WLR 1




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedOffice of Fair Trading and others v IBA Health Limited CA 19-Feb-2004
The OFT had considered whether it was necessary to refer a merger between two companies to the Competition Commission, and decided against. The Competition Appeal Tribunal held that the proposed merger should have been referred. The OFT and parties . .
CitedRegina v Hillingdon London Borough Council Ex parte Puhlhofer HL 2-Jan-1986
Not Homeless Even if Accomodation Inadequate
The applicants, a married couple, lived with a young child and later also a baby in one room of a guest house. They were given breakfast but had no cooking or washing facilities. They succeeded on a judicial review of the housing authority’s . .
CitedSomerville v Scottish Ministers HL 24-Oct-2007
The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
CitedLondon Borough of Hillingdon and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v The Lord Chancellor and others Admn 6-Nov-2008
The claimant challenged the substantial increase in court fees in public law children cases in the Fees Orders. The respondent said that the orders were intended to reflect the true costs of such proceedings and that funding had been provided to . .
CitedAXA General Insurance Ltd and Others v Lord Advocate and Others SC 12-Oct-2011
Standing to Claim under A1P1 ECHR
The appellants had written employers’ liability insurance policies. They appealed against rejection of their challenge to the 2009 Act which provided that asymptomatic pleural plaques, pleural thickening and asbestosis should constitute actionable . .
CitedBAPIO Action Ltd and Another, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another CA 9-Nov-2007
The action group appealed against refusal of a judicial review of guidelines as to the employment of non-EU doctors, saying that they were in effect immigration rules and issuable only under the 1971 Act. The court had said that since the guidance . .
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 . .
CitedMiller, Regina (on the Application of) v The Prime Minister; Cherry QC v Lord Advocate SC 24-Sep-2019
Prerogative act of prorogation was justiciable.
The Prime Minister had prorogued Parliament for a period of five weeks, leaving only a short time for Parliament to debate and act the forthcoming termination of the membership by the UK of the EU. The Scottish Court had decided (Cherry) that the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Judicial Review, Administrative

Updated: 03 August 2022; Ref: scu.194047