On a power trip? High Court finds Secretary of State acted ultra vires

In R. (on the application of VIP Communications Ltd) (In Liquidation) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 994 (Admin), the High Court quashed a direction given by the Secretary of State to Ofcom, which purported to limit the use of telecoms devices known as “GSM Gateways” on national security grounds. The Court held … Read more

Leave it to the experts? High Court finds more expected from regulators on matters where they lack expertise

The Administrative Court in R. (on the application of Gwynt-y-Môr Offshore Wind Farm Ltd) v Gas and Electricity Markets Authority [2019] EWHC 654 (Admin) has criticised a regulator for failing to sufficiently analyse the differences between precedents and the case at hand and for failing to properly consider the views of the independent expert that it had commissioned. … Read more

Difficulties in challenging regulatory action demonstrated again by High Court

In Npower Direct Ltd v the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority and the Competition Markets Authority [2018] EWHC 3576 (Admin), the High Court dismissed Npower’s claim for judicial review of a Direction by the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (“Ofgem“) that Npower was required to circulate information to its customers designed to make them consider Npower’s terms … Read more

Unreasonable timetable set by regulator quashed for unfairness

In J Sainsbury plc and Asda Group Limited v Competition and Markets Authority[2019] CAT 1, 18 January 2019 the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) granted an application made jointly by Sainsbury’s and Asda (the “Applicants”) in respect of two decisions by a regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), regarding the timetable for an investigation into their proposed … Read more

When will the courts intervene in regulatory decisions concerning future issues

In R (Avaaz Foundation) v Ofcom [2018] EWHC 1973 (Admin), the Administrative Court (Supperstone J) dismissed all four grounds of the judicial review brought by Avaaz Foundation (“Avaaz“) of Ofcom’s decision that Sky plc (“Sky“)1 would remain fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence following its merger with 21st Century Fox Inc (“Fox“). Key points The Court will … Read more

The National Audit Office reports on government-funded inquiries

The National Audit Office (“NAO”) recently published the findings of its investigation into government funded inquiries (the “Report”) , prompted by the increasing prevalence of inquiries and the considerable public funds spent on them. The NAO explored the establishment and management of inquiries, their cost and duration, and how they are managed in practice. Key points Inquiries … Read more

Court of Appeal highlights the limits of Ombudsmens’ discretion

In Miller & Another v Health Service Commissioner for England [2018] EWCA Civ 144, the Court of Appeal quashed a decision of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (the “Ombudsman“) on the basis that both the decision to investigate and the approach taken during the investigation were unlawful. Key Points Whilst ombudsmen have the discretion to determine … Read more