Mr Justice Hickinbottom, who is the Queen’s Bench Liaison Judge for the Western Circuit, gave SWALA’s inaugural lecture “The Administrative Court – The Next Step” on 20th November 2014 at the offices of Bevan Brittan LLP.
SWALA has been formed to bring together all practitioners with an interest in Administrative Law in the South West of England. It welcomes solicitors and barristers both in private practice and employed by public authorities. Its first meeting was well attended by the professions and also members of the local judicary and court staff.
In his lecture Mr Justice Hickinbottom not only welcomed the formation of SWALA and explained the history and advantages of the regional jurisdiction of the Administrative Court, but went on to consider, in depth, the intractable problem of how a court can assess the proportionality of an administrative act which engages an individual’s human rights without trespassing on the area of discretion, which constitutionally belongs to the decision maker. By reference to cases including R (SB) v Governors of Denbigh High School  UKHL 15, Miss Behavin’ Ltd v Belfast City Council  UKHL 19, R (Stevens) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 792 (Admin) and R (Nagre) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 720 (Admin), Hickinbottom J expressed the view that the differences between the approach required by ECHR jurisprudence and the traditional Wednesbury approach could be exaggerated and explained how a court should allow considerable deference to a decision, which on its face properly took into account the human rights engaged.