The Court of Appeal had to decide whether conditions attached to the licensing of cinemas for Sunday opening were reasonable.
For a decision to be unreasonable it must be so absurd that no sensible person could ever contemplate that it would be within their decision-making powers.
By a statement made in 1994 the Ministry of Defence reaffirmed its policy that homosexuality was incompatible with service in the armed forces and that personnel known to be homosexual or engaging in homosexual activity would be administratively discharged. The four applicants were serving members of the armed forces who had been administratively discharged between November 1994 and January 1995 on the sole ground that they were of homosexual orientation. In proceedings for judicial review each applicant challenged the decision. One of the grounds was irrationality.
Where an administrative decision is made in the context of human rights the court will require a proportionately greater justification before being satisfied that the decision is within the range of responses open to a reasonable decision-maker, according to the seriousness of the interference with those rights.
The House of Lords had to decide whether the principle of proportionality applied in EU law is a recognized principle of English administrative law.
Lord Slynn said that it is time to recognize proportionality as a principle of English administrative law. This principle is applied in cases where the court is asked to consider whether legislation is compatible with Convention rights; applying principles of EU law; deciding whether to quash a penalty or punishment; asked to review the decision of a public body on the ground that it is unreasonable.
The claimant was an Afghan national who had entered the UK illegally after the rejection of his claim for asylum in Greece. The Secretary of State decided to remove the claimant to Greece. The claimant sought judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision on the grounds that his removal would be contrary to Art 3 ECHR, as the Greek authorities were likely to send him back to Afghanistan where he would be ill-treated.
In accordance with Strasbourg jurisprudence, the court is concerned with whether the claimant’s Convention rights have been infringed, not with whether the public authority has properly taken them into account. What is important is the practical outcome of the decision not the quality of the decision-making process itself.