Wheeler v Leicester City Council; In re Wheeler and others: HL 25 Jul 1985

The Council opposed sporting links with South Africa. The local rugby club failed to denounce apartheid and did not seek to dissuade three of its players touring with the national side. The Court of Appeal had refused judicial review of the council’s decision to ban the club from playing at the ground which it owned.
Held: The club’s appeal succeeded. The Club ‘could not be punished because the Club had done nothing wrong’ The Council could not rely on the 1976 Act which had different purposes, but had other discretions and powers, and ‘persuasion, however powerful, must not be allowed to cross that line where it moves into the field of illegitimate pressure coupled with the threat of sanctions.’
A body exercising public functions must not act on grounds collateral to the objective to be achieved and/or for improper motives. A public body has an overarching duty to act fairly when seeking to achieve its objectives in exercising its public functions and, by seeking to use those powers to punish someone who had not acted in any way which could properly justify such punishment, it misused its powers and, thus, acted unlawfully and Wednesbury unreasonably.’


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


[1985] UKHL 6, [1985] AC 1054, [1985] 3 WLR 335, [1985] 2 All ER 151




Relations Act 1976 71


England and Wales


CitedAssociated 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 . .
CitedCongreve v Secretary of State for the Home Office CA 1976
The appellant had bought his television licence when the charge was andpound;12 although the minister had already announced that it would later be increased to andpound;18. The Home Office wrote to those who had purchased their licence before the . .
Appeal fromIn re Wheeler CA 14-Mar-1985
The local authority disapproved of the Rugby Union maintaining links in South Africa. They banned the local team from access to a local recreation ground for club matches, save for training, when three local players were chosen to go on a tour of . .
CitedCouncil of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service HL 22-Nov-1984
Exercise of Prerogative Power is Reviewable
The House considered an executive decision made pursuant to powers conferred by a prerogative order. The Minister had ordered employees at GCHQ not to be members of trades unions.
Held: The exercise of a prerogative power of a public nature . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Local Government, Judicial Review

Updated: 28 May 2022; Ref: scu.248691