Regina v Visitors to the Inns of Court ex parte Calder: CA 1993

Two barristers had been struck off for disciplinary offences. Their appeals were heard by three High Court judges sitting as Visitors, who dismissed the appeals. The barristers now sought judicial review of that decision.
Held: Justices sitting as visitors were not sitting as judges as such, but in a domestic forum, and their decisions were not subject to judicial review under section 16 of the 1873 Act.
Nevertheless the Visitors may themselves have misunderstood their role, limiting themselves to a review rather than hearing an appeal, and the decsion was quashed and remitted to the Divisional Court.
Sir Donald Nicholls VC said: ‘There remains Miss Calder’s fourth ground of appeal: that the visitors misunderstood their role. She contends that the visitors were sitting as an appellate tribunal, not (as they seemed to have thought) as a reviewing tribunal, and hence they failed fully and properly to carry out their duties as visitors. As to this, first, I can see no reason to doubt that an appeal to the judges as visitors is precisely that: an appeal. It is so described in the authorities. In Lincoln v Daniels [1962] 1 Q.B. 237, 256, Devlin L.J. referred to it as ‘a re-hearing on appeal.’ Thus the visitors will look afresh at the matters in dispute and form their own views. The procedure followed in the conduct of such an appeal is a matter for the visitors. The current visitors’ rules provide that fresh evidence will be admissible only in exceptional circumstances. In the absence of fresh evidence the appeal will be comparable to an appeal in the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal. Regarding sentence, it will be for the visitors to exercise their own discretion and judgment.
Second, I am in no doubt that if visitors conduct, not an appeal of this nature, but a review of the disciplinary tribunal’s findings and decisions comparable to that undertaken by the court by way of judicial review of decisions of inferior courts or tribunals, then the visitors’ decision is amenable to judicial review. . ‘
Stuart-Smith LJ said: ‘I come then to the final ground of appeal, namely, that the visitors misdirected themselves as to the nature of their jurisdiction in that they treated the matters as one of review rather than appeal by way of re-hearing on merits. It was not contested before us that the proper approach was that of an appellate court re-hearing the case on its merits, such as is the position of the Court of Appeal on appeal in a civil case from the decision of a judge alone. Although the point has never fallen to be decided, I agree that this is the correct approach. All the cases dealing with a judges’ jurisdiction as visitors referred to it as an appeal to the visitors. There is no warrant for thinking that they limited themselves to the circumstances in which the prerogative writs of prohibition, mandamus or certiorari would lie, that being the foundation of the judicial review jurisdiction. The language of the Hearings before the Visitors Rules 1991 is appropriate for an appeal and not a review only. Thus the Appellant is referred to as such and not an Applicant: Rule 2(2). The grounds of appeal are against the finding and the petition should refer to the evidence relied upon: rules 5 and 7(2)(e). The visitors may either allow the appeal or order a re-hearing: rule 11(3). They are not limited to quashing the order. Like any other appellate court, the visitors do not as a rule hear evidence from witnesses unless they give leave under rule 10(6) and (7). Accordingly they should adopt the same approach to findings of fact made by the tribunals as the Court of Appeal do in findings of the trial judge: see Yuill v Yuill [1945] P.15; Watts or Thomas v Thomas[1947] A.C. 485 and Powell Streatham Manor Nursing Home [1935] A.C. 243.’


Sir Donald Nicholls VC, Stuart-Smith LJ


[1994] QB 1, [1993] 3 WLR 287


Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 16


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Hull University Visitor, Ex parte Page; Regina v Lord President of the Privy Council ex Parte Page HL 3-Dec-1992
The decisions of University Visitors are subject to judicial review in that they exercise a public function. English law no longer draws a distinction between jurisdictional errors of law and non-jurisdictional errors of law.
However, the . .

Cited by:

CitedMcCarthy v Visitors To The Inns of Court and Another Admn 25-Oct-2013
The claimant barrister sought judicial review of his disbarrment. The Board of Visitors had found that he had dishonestly fabricated documents relating to correspondence with a client. He now said that the proceedings had been unfair, in that an . .
CitedMcCarthy, Regina (on The Application of) v The Visitors To The Inns of Court and Another CA 20-Jan-2015
The court was asked whether the decision of the Visitors to the Inns of Court dismissing Mr McCarthy’s appeal from the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal should be quashed with a view to the underlying matter being remitted to the Tribunal. The Tribunal . .
CitedO’Connor v Bar Standards Board SC 6-Dec-2017
The claimant barrister complained of the manner of conduct of the disciplinary proceedings brought against her. She had been cleared of any breach of the Bar Code of Conduct, but her claim was then ruled out of time under section 7(5)(a), time . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Natural Justice

Updated: 27 November 2022; Ref: scu.542700