Turner v Secretary of State of the Environment: 1974

Ackner J upheld the standing of the chairman of a local preservation society who had appeared at a public local inquiry by permission of the inspector to challenge the decision. Ackner J said: ‘I see no merit in the proposition that a person who has merely been given notice of the existence of the inquiry at the request of and not by the requirement of the Secretary of State and whose right to attend and make his representations has resulted from the exercise of the inspector’s discretion should be obliged to sit by and accept the decision, which, ex hypothesi , is bad in law. I can see no compelling matter of policy which requires this form of silence to be imposed on a person who has, again ex hypothesi , a clear grievance in law. On the other hand I see good reason, so long as the grounds of appeal are so restricted, for ensuring that any person who, in the ordinary sense of the word, is aggrieved by the decision, and certainly any person who has attended and made representations at the inquiry, should have the right to establish in the courts that the decision is bad in law because it is ultra vires or for some other good reason. It is true that the would-be developer may be held up while the appeal is made, but, as the dates in this case indicate, the procedure is a reasonably expeditious one and I have no doubt that an application for special expedition, where justified, would be listened to sympathetically by the court.’
Ackner J rejected the proposition that there was a distinction between an interested person who appeared at the discretion of the Inspector and a person who was required to be served. He said: ‘In his report the inspector classifies the applicants, inter alios, as ‘interested persons,’ a classification which is clearly justified by the facts. They were persons whom the appointed person in his discretion had allowed to appear at the inquiry and make representations in relation to the subject-matter of the inquiry, which representations had to be recorded by the inspector and transmitted with his, the inspector’s, findings of fact and conclusions to the Secretary of State with a view to the Secretary of State accepting or rejecting those findings of fact and conclusions. Such persons have, in my judgment, impliedly the right that the Secretary of State in considering those representations shall act within the powers conferred on him by the statute and shall comply with the relevant requirements of the statute, in just the same way (as is conceded to be the case) as has a person who makes representations at the inquiry being a person on whom the Secretary of State has required notice of the inquiry to be served. I thus conclude that no valid differentiation can be made between a person who appears at an inquiry and makes his representations having had notice of the inquiry at the insistence of the Secretary of State and a person who appears and makes his representations by permission of the appointed person.’
Ackner J
(1974) 28 P and CR 123
England and Wales
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Updated: 03 December 2020; Ref: scu.514941