Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Brind: HL 7 Feb 1991

The Home Secretary had issued directives to the BBC and IBA prohibiting the broadcasting of speech by representatives of proscribed terrorist organisations. The applicant journalists challenged the legality of the directives on the ground that they were incompatible with the ECHR, and also on the ground that they were disproportionate in going beyond the established doctrine of reasonableness.
Held: The Convention was not part of UK law, and the words of the Act were clear and prevailed, though in a case of ambiguity, the court may have regard to the treaty obligations of the United Kingdom in seeking to resolve that ambiguity. In resolving ambiguities in domestic legislation the Courts presume that Parliament intended to legislate in conformity with the Convention, not in conflict with it.
The restrictions imposed were necessary in the public interest in combating terrorism. The courts, when adjudicating upon an application for judicial review of a ministerial decision, may have regard to a ministerial statement made in Parliament. Wednesbury reasonableness and proportionality are different. For decisions infringing fundamental rights, unreasonableness is not equated with ‘absurdity’ or ‘perversity’, and a lower threshold of unreasonableness is used: ‘whether a reasonable Secretary of State, on the material before him, could conclude that the interference with freedom of expression was justifiable.’ When testing a decision of a lower court: ‘… A less emotive but, subject to one qualification, reliable test is to ask, ‘Could a decision-maker acting reasonably have reached this decision?’ The qualification is that the supervising court must bear in mind that it is not sitting on appeal, but satisfying itself as to whether the decision-maker has acted within the bounds of his discretion. For that reason it is ‘fallacious for those seeking to quash administrative acts and decisions to call in aid decisions of a Court of Appeal reversing a judge’s finding, it may be on a question of what is reasonable. To say what is reasonable was the judge’s task in the first place and the duty of the Court of Appeal, after giving due weight to the judge’s opinion, is to say whether they agree with him. In judicial review, on the other hand, the task of the High Court is as described above, and the task of the Court of Appeal and, when necessary, this House is to decide whether the High Court has correctly exercised its supervisory jurisdiction.’


Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Lowry


[1991] 1 AC 696, [1991] 2 WLR 588, [1991] UKHL 4, [1991] 1 All ER 720




Broadcasting Act 1991 29, European Convention on Human Rights


England and Wales


ExplainedAssociated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation CA 10-Nov-1947
Administrative Discretion to be Used Reasonably
The applicant challenged the manner of decision making as to the conditions which had been attached to its licence to open the cinema on Sundays. It had not been allowed to admit children under 15 years of age. The statute provided no appeal . .
AffirmedMaclaine Watson and Co Ltd v International Tin Council HL 2-Jan-1989
The International Tin Council was a body constituted by an international treaty not incorporated into law in the United Kingdom. The ITC was also created a legal person in the United Kingdom by article 5 1972 Order.
Held: As a legal person in . .

Cited by:

AppliedPepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .
CitedThe Association of British Civilian Internees – Far Eastern Region (ABCIFER) v Secretary of State for Defence CA 3-Apr-2003
The association sought a judicial review of a decision not to pay compensation in respect of their or their parents or grandparents’ internment by the Japanese in the Second World War. Payment was not made because those interned were not born in . .
CitedBritish Medical Association v Chaudhary CA 15-May-2003
The claimant had sought registration as a specialist medical practitioner by the respondent. His complaint that the crtiria used to reject his claim were discriminatory had been rejected by the employment tribunal and EAT on the basis that they had . .
CitedMacDonald v Advocate General for Scotland (Scotland); Pearce v Governing Body of Mayfield School HL 19-Jun-2003
Three appeals raised issues about the way in which sex discrimination laws were to be applied for cases involving sexual orientation.
Held: The court should start by asking what gave rise to the act complained of. In this case it was the . .
CitedWilson v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) HL 10-Jul-2003
The respondent appealed against a finding that the provision which made a loan agreement completely invalid for lack of compliance with the 1974 Act was itself invalid under the Human Rights Act since it deprived the respondent lender of its . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex parte Turgut CA 28-Jan-2000
When the Court of Appeal was asked to look at the decision of the Home Secretary on an appeal to him for asylum, the court should investigate the factual circumstances which lay behind the decision. The court must follow the practice of the European . .
CitedRegina v Chief Constable of Sussex, ex Parte International Trader’s Ferry Limited HL 2-Apr-1998
Chief Constable has a Wide Discretion on Resources
Protesters sought to prevent the appellant’s lawful trade exporting live animals. The police provided assistance, but then restricted it, pleading lack of resources. The appellants complained that this infringed their freedom of exports under . .
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 . .
CitedIn re McKerr (Northern Ireland) HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased had been shot by soldiers of the British Army whilst in a car in Northern Ireland. The car was alleged to have ‘run’ a checkpoint. The claimants said the investigation, now 20 years ago, had been inadequate. The claim was brought under . .
CitedRegina v Braintree District Council ex parte Halls Admn 2-Jul-1999
Where a local authority had sold a property to a tenant, and the tenant later came back to request the release from one of the covenants given on the sale, the council was free to charge an appropriate sum for that release. It was not a covenant . .
CitedRegina v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ex parte Pearson Admn 11-May-1999
The claimant sought judicial review of the Board’s decision to restrict his award by two thirds for his previous driving convictions of driving with excess alcohol and driving whilst disqualified.
Held: The Board’s decision was for them. There . .
CitedJennings v Buchanan PC 14-Jul-2004
(New Zealand) (Attorney General of New Zealand intervening) The defendant MP had made a statement in Parliament which attracted parliamentary privilege. In a subsequent newspaper interview, he said ‘he did not resile from his claim’. He defended the . .
CitedAl-Fayed and others v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and others CA 25-Nov-2004
The appellants appealed from dismissal of their claims for wrongful imprisonment by the respondent. Each had attended at a police station for interview on allegations of theft. They had been arrested and held pending interview and then released. Mr . .
CitedOccidental Exploration and Production Company vRepublic of Ecuador CA 9-Sep-2005
The parties had arbitrated their dispute in London under a bilateral investment treaty between the US and Ecuador. The republic sought to appeal the arbitration. The applicant now appealed an order that the English High Court had jurisdiction to . .
CitedA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
Evidence from 3rd Party Torture Inadmissible
The applicants had been detained following the issue of certificates issued by the respondent that they posed a terrorist threat. They challenged the decisions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission saying that evidence underlying the . .
CitedBradley and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 21-Feb-2007
The claimant had lost his company pension and complained that the respondent had refused to follow the recommendation of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration that compensation should be paid.
Held: The court should not rely on . .
CitedHurst, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v London Northern District Coroner HL 28-Mar-2007
The claimant’s son had been stabbed to death. She challenged the refusal of the coroner to continue with the inquest with a view to examining the responsibility of any of the police in having failed to protect him.
Held: The question amounted . .
ExplainedRegina v Secretary of State for the Environment, Ex parte NALGO CA 1992
Neill LJ explained article 8 of the Convention in the light of Brind: ‘(1) Article 10 is not part of English domestic law. It is therefore not necessary for the Minister when exercising an administrative decision conferred on him by Parliament to . .
CitedGrimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, Regina (on The Application of) v Learning and Skills Council Admn 12-Aug-2010
The applicant had applied to the respondent for funding for new buildings. The application was approved, but the application was rejected when the respondent ran out of funds. The claimant said that a legitimate expectation had been created, and . .
CitedKelly (A Minor) v British Broadcasting Corporation FD 25-Jul-2000
K, aged 16, had left home to join what was said to be a religious sect. His whereabouts were unknown. He had been made a ward of court and the Official Solicitor was appointed to represent his interests. He had sent messages to say that he was well . .
CitedRegina v Bow County Court Ex parte Pelling QBD 8-Mar-1999
Mr Pelling sought to act as a McKenzie friend. On being refused he sought judicial review of he decision to exclude him.
Held: Review was refused. A McKenzie friend has himself no locus to challenge a decision by a county court judge not to . .
CitedSG and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 18-Mar-2015
The court was asked whether it was lawful for the Secretary of State to make subordinate legislation imposing a cap on the amount of welfare benefits which can be received by claimants in non-working households, equivalent to the net median earnings . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Administrative, Media, Human Rights, Judicial Review

Updated: 21 July 2022; Ref: scu.180649