R v Port of London Authority, Ex parte Kynoch Ltd. [1919] 1 K.B. 176

Key point
  • This case established the fettering of discretion as a ground of judicial review: a public body may lay down a policy to guide its exercise of discretionary power granted by statute, provided that the policy is reasonable – however, the body will be acting illegally if it refuses to hear applications for exceptions to be granted under the policy
  • Kynoch owned land adjoining the Thames and wished to construct a deep water wharf and sought permission from the authority
  • Permission was refused on the ground that Parliament had charged the authority with the duty of providing such facilities
  • Kynoch sought judicial review of the refusal
Held (Court of Appeal)
  • The decision of the authority was upheld as before reaching their decision, the authority had fully considered the case on its merits and in relation to the public interest
Bankes LJ
  • ‘There are on the one hand cases where a tribunal in the honest exercise of its discretion has adopted a policy, and, without refusing to hear an applicant, intimates to him what its policy is, and that after hearing him it will in accordance with its policy decide against him, unless there is something exceptional in his case. I think counsel for the applicants would admit that, if the policy has been adopted for reasons which the tribunal may legitimately entertain, no objection could be taken to such a course. On the other hand there are cases where a tribunal has passed a rule, or come to a determination, not to hear any application of a particular character by whomsoever made. There is a wide distinction to be drawn between these two classes.’
  • Fettering of discretion is considered as a form of illegality review
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