Austin Hall Building Ltd v Buckland Securities Ltd [2001] BLR 272 (QBD)

Human Rights – public authority

The judge in this case ruled that an adjudicator acting under s108 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 is not a public authority. Notwithstanding that the adjudicator is a creation of statute and can order that his decision be complied with, the judge based his decision on the reasoning that an adjudicator is not a person before whom legal proceedings can be brought, in accordance with the definition of ‘tribunal’ in s21 HRA. He was swayed in this by the fact that the decision of the adjudicator is not a judgement and is not enforceable without application to the court. However, as decisions of the adjudicator are binding unless and until final resolution by the court, and his role is compulsory under statute, this decision may well be vulnerable to attack, in subsequent cases or on appeal.

In RSPCA v Attorney-General and others [2001] 3 All ER 530 (QBD), the judge held, without finding the need to say more, that the RSPCA was clearly not a public authority and had no public functions and in British Council, ex parte Oxford Study Centre [2001] EWCA Admin 207, it was held that the British Council had no public law functions: its regulatory scheme was not part of any system of governmental control and it was therefore not amenable to judicial review.

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