Donoghue v Poplar Housing & Regeneration Community Association Ltd [2001] 3 WLR 183 (CA)

Housing association – public authority – functions of a public nature – human rights

The fact that a body performs an activity which otherwise a public body would be under a duty to perform, cannot mean that such performance is necessarily a public function. What can make an act, which would otherwise be private, public, is a feature or a combination of features which impose a public character or stamp on the act. Statutory authority for what is done can at least help to mark the act as being public; so can the extent of control over the function exercised by another body which is a public authority. The more closely the acts that could be of a private nature are enmeshed in the activities of a public body, the more likely they are to be public. However, the fact that the acts are supervised by a public regulatory body does not necessarily indicate that they are of a public nature.

Whilst the activities of a housing association need not involve the performance of public functions, in the instant case, Poplar, which was subject to the guidance of the local authority in providing accommodation for the defendant and then seeking summary possession, was so closely assimilated to the council that it was properly to be regarded as a functional public authority

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