East Sussex County Council, ex parte Tandy [1998] 2 All ER 769 (HL)

Statutory duty – discretion – resources

Where Parliament has chosen to impose a statutory duty, as opposed to a power, requiring the local authority to do certain things, the courts should be slow to downgrade such duties into what are, in effect, mere discretions over which the court would have very little real control. A lack of resources does not preclude any statutory duty arising and is no defence to a failure to perform a statutory duty if it has arisen. To permit a local authority to avoid performing a statutory duty on the grounds that it prefers to spend the money in other ways would be to downgrade a statutory duty to a discretionary power.

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