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Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Chapter one: Defining the constitution
  3. Chapter two: Parliamentary sovereignty
  4. Chapter three: The rule of law and the separation of powers
  5. Chapter four: The royal prerogative
  6. Chapter five: The House of Commons
  7. Chapter six: The House of Lords
  8. Chapter seven: The electoral system
  9. Chapter eight: Parliamentary privilege
  10. Chapter nine: Constitutional conventions
  11. Chapter ten: Local government
  12. Chapter eleven: Parliamentary sovereignty within the European Union
  13. Chapter twelve: The governance of Scotland and Wales
  14. Chapter thirteen: Substantive grounds of judicial review 1: illegality, irrationality and proportionality
  15. Chapter fourteen: Procedural grounds of judicial review
    1. Cooper v Wandsworth Board of Works [1863] 143 ER 414
    2. R v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, ex parte Parker [1953] 2 All ER 717
    3. Ridge v Baldwin and others [1963] 2 All ER 66
    4. Re K (H) (an infant) [1967] 1 All ER 226
    5. Schmidt and Another v Secretary of State For Home Affairs [1969] 1 All ER 904
    6. McInnes v Onslow Fane and another [1978] 3 All ER 211
    7. R v Hull Prison Board of Visitors, ex parte St Germain and others (No 2) [1979] 3 All ER 545
    8. Attorney-General of Hong Kong v Ng Yuen Shiu (Privy Council) [1983] 2 W.L.R. 735; [1983] 2 A.C. 629
    9. R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Khan [1985] 1 All ER 40
    10. R v North East Devon Health Authority, ex parte Coughlan [2000] 3 All ER 850
    11. Regina v Secretary of State for Education and Employment, ex parte Begbie (CA) [2000] 1 W.L.R. 1115
    12. R (on the application of Bibi) v London Borough of Newham; [2001] EWCA Civ 607; [2002] 1 WLR 237 (CA).
    13. R v East Sussex County Council, ex p Reprotech (Pebsham) Ltd (HL) [2002] UKHL 8; 2002] 4 All ER 58.
    14. Metropolitan Properties Co (F G C) Ltd v Lannon and Others [1968] 3 All ER 304
    15. R v Gough [1993] 2 All ER 724
    16. R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate and others, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 2) [1999] 1 All ER 577
    17. Taylor v Lawrence [2003] QB 528
  16. Chapter fifteen: Challenging governmental decisions: the process
  17. Chapter sixteen: Locus standi
  18. Chapter seventeen: Human rights I: Traditional perspectives
  19. Chapter eighteen: Human rights II: Emergent principles
  20. Chapter nineteen: Human rights III: New substantive grounds of review
  21. Chapter twenty: Human rights IV: The Human Rights Act 1998
  22. Chapter twenty-one: Human rights V: The impact of The Human Rights Act 1998
  23. Chapter twenty-two: Human rights VI: Governmental powers of arrest and detention
  24. Chapter twenty-three: Leaving the European Union

R v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, ex parte Parker [1953] 2 All ER 717

LORD GODDARD CJ: Counsel for the applicant moves for an order of certiorari to bring into this court for the purpose of being quashed an order made against Albert Arthur Parker dated 23 October 1952, by the Commissioner of Police for the metropolis revoking his hackney carriage driver's licence, pursuant to the London Cab Order, 1934, para 30(1). Briefly stated the grounds are that an inquiry was held by the Commissioner of Police and at that inquiry the applicant desired to call a witness, but the persons holding the inquiry declined to hear the witness. Therefore, it is said, the rules of natural justice were violated.

The applicant was licensed some years ago, and his career as a taxicab driver has not been without blemish. He has been warned and convicted of offences against various Acts of Parliament in relation to the use of his cab.....

At the material times in this case it was brought to the attention of the commissioner that the applicant was alleged by the police to have been allowing his cab to be used by prostitutes for the carrying on of their trade and to have been permitting men to enter the cab for the purpose of sexual intercourse. The result was that the commissioner resolved to withdraw his licence.....

The present position with regard to the revocation of a licence is to be found in para 30 of the London Cab Order, 1934, which was made under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act, 1869, and that paragraph shows clearly, as one would expect, that a licence may be revoked or suspended. Indeed, leaving out of account irrevocable licences granted under seal and possibly licences coupled with an interest, the very fact that a licence is granted to a person would seem to imply that the person granting the licence can also revoke it. A licence is nothing but a permission, and, if a man is given permission to do something, it is natural that the person who gives the permission will be able to withdraw the permission. As a rule, where a licence is granted, the licensor does not have to state why he withdraws his permission. Unless he has given a licence for a definite period, thereby giving some contractual right, he can withdraw it. Paragraph 30(1) of the order is in these terms:

A cab-driver's licence shall be liable to revocation or suspension by the Commissioner of Police if he is satisfied, by reason of any circumstances arising or coming to his knowledge after the licence was granted, that the licensee is not a fit person to hold such a licence.

In the present case, facts having come to the commissioner's knowledge with regard to the alleged repeated use of the applicant's cab by disorderly women, the commissioner decided to withdraw the licence. Counsel for the applicant, in my opinion, very properly conceded that, if the commissioner had simply said: 'I withdraw your licence', he could not argue that the commissioner was bound to hold an inquiry or hear evidence or anything else. The wording of the paragraph seems to me to make it clear that it is not intended that there should be held anything in the nature of a judicial inquiry or that the commissioner should be put in the position of a judge or quasi-judge. The commissioner can withdraw the licence or suspend it by reason of any circumstance which comes to his knowledge. In other words, he can act on hearsay if he likes, and I suppose in many cases he acts on a complaint, though in most cases, I expect, he would satisfy himself as far as he can that the information that comes to his knowledge is accurate....

It is argued that the commissioner, if he chose, having been satisfied that the applicant was not a fit person to hold a licence, could have said: (I withdraw your licence(, and that would have been perfectly valid and his decision could not be challenged, but that, having made up his mind to that effect, he took the view that there might be some room for mistake, and he, therefore, decided on the course which was adopted. As I have said, it is impossible to find on the wording of para 30(1) under which the commissioner acted that he was in the position of either a judge or a quasi-judge. Exactly what a quasi-judge is nobody has ever attempted to define, but I suppose he is a person who has to hear evidence and come to a conclusion on facts. One would expect, where an order of certiorari is sought, that a judge or quasi-judge would have made an order or something in the nature of an order, because otherwise what is to be brought up to be quashed in this court? The motion is to bring up an order of the commissioner. There is nothing here to show that there ever was an order. It was simply a decision of the commissioner that, by reason of facts coming to his knowledge, he was satisfied that the licensee was not a fit person to hold the licence. In all the cases which have been cited to us (and I do not propose to go through them because all the cases on the subject were considered by the court in R v Manchester Legal Aid Committee, ex p R A Brand & Co Ltd) a department of State has either passed a resolution or made an order consequent on a resolution which can be quashed or to which some objection can be taken. Here, there is nothing, and, in my opinion, it is impossible to say that the commissioner(in fact, it is not said(if he acted alone was in a judicial or quasi-judicial position. He was exercising what I may call a disciplinary authority, and where a person, whether he is a military officer, a police officer, or any other person whose duty it is to act in matters of discipline, is exercising disciplinary powers, it is most undesirable, in my opinion, that he should be fettered by threats of orders of certiorari and so forth, because that interferes with the free and proper exercise of the disciplinary powers which he has. In this case the applicant was given a chance, by cross-examination of or confrontation with the police officers, of extracting some fact which, if it was brought to the notice of the commissioner, might have influenced him before his decision was actually promulgated through the mouth of the assistant-commissioner.

For these reasons, in my opinion, there is no ground for saying that the withdrawal of the licence granted by the Commissioner of Police to the applicant was a judicial act, nor that it was done by a judicial or quasi-judicial person, and consequently, certiorari will not lie and this application fails.