Today I just had Administrative Law, where we continued our exploration of judicial review. It is also the start of the last week of the term.
If you haven’t been following for the last couple of weeks, I have not been the biggest fan of this part of the law. Today was no exception, though I will say that I did find it more interesting than the previous lectures.
We explored the grounds of judicial review which can be summed up as a public body going beyond its realm of jurisdiction. The courts prefer the Latin term, ultra-vires. Judicial review is used when there is illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety, which is another way of saying when the public bodies do something they are not meant to do, something stupid or don’t follow the correct rules to do something in their own powers.
I only want to talk about what public bodies are allowed to do. Our lecturer said along the lines of the following: private citizens can do anything the law doesn’t mention, while public bodies are only allowed to do what is said in law. I don’t entirely agree. Private citizens cannot do anything, as you can be punished retrospectively in common law. Just have a look at marital rape. Just because the law hasn’t caught up, doesn’t mean that it won’t. Regarding the limits of public bodies, I do think that bodies such as councils should be allowed to do things beyond the stated scope of what they are allowed to do. If my council can provide me with a service that is cheaper and better than the private sector, then why would I not want this to happen? Before there is groaning from the libertarians, take the example of something that could be regarded as a public utility such as broadband lines. If the council could outsmart the market, then why should I put up with companies that are useless (looking at you BT/Openreach)? I’m not going to set up my own cable for me, it’s not feasible, but if the community did, why not? What if the council made that decision by itself? I don’t see a public policy problem. This is not saying, let them run free. Just use a bit of common sense and don’t let the business lobby decide everything.
Normally I do not add anything personal, but it was fantastic catching up with some of the UCL gang!