Wilson v Independent Broadcasting Authority: OHCS 1979

In the lead up to the Scottish referendum on Devolution, the Authority required the broadcasters to carry party political broadcasts for each of the four main parties. Three parties favoured voting yes in the referendum, and the authority was injuncted by those opposing the Yes campaign.
Held: The injunction was set aside. The Act required the Authority to maintain a balance of approximately for each case. The court considered how the broadcasting media should achieve balance during elections.
Lord Ross said: ‘I see no reason in principle why an individual should not sue in order to prevent a breach by a public body of a duty owed by that public body to the public. It may well be that the Lord Advocate could be a petitioner if the interests of the public as a whole were affected…, but I see no reason why an individual should not sue provided always that the individual can qualify an interest.
Having considered the petitioners’ averments, I am of the opinion that the petitioners have averred sufficient interest.
(1) They are voters and the Referendum gives them the choice to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
(2) They belong to an organisation or group who apparently believe that the question should be answered ‘No’.
(3) It is implicit in the name of the organisation or group that the petitioners wish to persuade other voters to vote ‘No’.
It is plain from the petition and the answers that the petitioners and the political parties believe that the programmes are likely to be influential upon the electorate in Scotland, and if that is so, the petitioners have an interest to see that the respondents do not act in breach of any statutory duties in relation to such programmes.’
Lord Ross
[1979] SC 351 OH, [1979] SLT 279
Broadcasting Act 1990
Cited by:

  • Cited – Regina v British Broadcasting Corporation, ex parte Referendum Party; Regina v Independent Television Commission, ex parte Referendum Party Admn 24-Apr-1997
    The Referendum Party challenged the allocation to it of less time for election broadcasts. Under the existing agreements, having fielded over 50 candidates, they were allocated only five minutes.
    Held: Neither the inclusion of past electoral . .
    [1997] EWHC Admin 406
  • Cited – Axa General Insurance Ltd and Others v Lord Advocate and Others SCS 8-Jan-2010
    The claimant sought to challenge the validity of the 2009 Act by judicial review. The Act would make their insured and themselves liable to very substantial unanticipated claims for damages for pleural plaques which would not previousl or otherwise . .
    2010 GWD 7-118, 2010 SLT 179, [2010] ScotCS CSOH – 02, Times 19-Jan-10
  • Cited – AXA 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 . .
    UKSC 2011/0108, [2011] UKSC 46, 2011 SLT 1061, [2012] 1 AC 868, (2011) 122 BMLR 149, [2011] 3 WLR 871, [2012] HRLR 3, [2011] UKHRR 1221

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 December 2020; Ref: scu.181971