Chapter 12 Outline answers to essay questions


You should define proportionality:

There must be a reasonable relationship between the objective being sought and the means used to achieve it.

Then define Wednesbury unreasonableness. Unreasonableness is a comprehensively used term capable of meaning that a person given a discretionary power has:
not directed himself properly in law;
has acted in bad faith;
failed to pay attention to all the matters he is bound to consider;
based his decision on irrelevant considerations; or
reached a conclusion which is so absurd that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it.

You should refer to:
Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948]
Backhouse v Lambeth LBC (1972)

The development of the unreasonableness principle

In this part of your answer you should discuss the principles laid down in R v Ministry of Defence, ex p Smith [1996].


You should discuss the early cases in which the possibility of proportionality becoming an independent ground of judicial review. The relevant cases are:
Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1985]
R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex p Brind [1991]

Then you should discuss:
R (Alconbury Developments Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions [2003]

This principle is applied in cases where the court is:
asked to consider whether legislation is compatible with Convention rights;
applying principles of European Union 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.