Thursday, 31 January 2013

Law report - Appeals from Human Rights Board of Inquiry

Smith v Minister of the Environment [2013] SC (Bda) 8 App

A Board of Inquiry had decided against Ms Smith in her human rights complaint against the Minister of the Environment.

It did not make any subsequent order, as orders are generally made to order a party to do something, whereas in this case the complaint was merely dismissed.

Ms Smith appealed against the decision to the Supreme Court. The Respondent applied to have the appeal struck out, on the grounds that the Human Rights Act only allows for appeals against orders, not against decisions.

S.21 states that "any party against whom an order has been made ... may appeal"

However, Hellman J noted that the sidenote or heading to s.21 read "Appeal from decision of Board of Inquiry" [17]. This indicated that parliament intended "order" to include "decision".

It would produce an anomalous result to apply a literal approach to the meaning of the word "order". In some contexts, order can have the meaning of covering all decisions of a court [21].

Given the purposes of the Human Rights Act, it should be interpreted broadly so as to attain the objectives of the Act [23].

Furthermore there was no rational basis for not allowing appeals against decisions as opposed to orders [26], and it would merely result in an unsuccessful party having to bring judicial review, a remedy of last resort [27]. If somebody wished to challenge both a decision and an order, they would have to start two sets of proceedings, which would not make any sense. This indicated that "order" was intended to include "decisions"

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