||All England Reporter
|| All ER (D) 228 (Apr)
|| EWCA Civ 353
||Court of Appeal, Civil Division
Laws, Rix and Dyson LJJ
||Robert Griffiths QC and Andrew Tabachnik (instructed by John Morris) for the claimant.
||Christopher Vajda QC and Josh Holmes (instructed by Nabarro) for the authority.
||16 April 2008
Natural justice - Duty to act fairly - Coal authority - Application by claimant for licence to mine - Licence being granted to rival applicant - Authority refusing to disclose details of rival bid prior to review hearing - Claimant contending non-disclosure of rival bid unfair - Whether authority acting unfairly
The case concerned rival applications for a licence to undertake a commercial venture. The court ruled that in such an instance there would be a distinction between a right to know the details of the rival's case and a right to know the decision-maker's concerns about one's own case. If every applicant saw every other's bid, and was entitled to comment and challenge, the resulting prolongation and complexity of the decision-making process could scarcely be exaggerated. In a competition case such as the instant, fairness imposed two broad requirements: (i) that an applicant be told the substance of the decision-maker's concerns about his own case, and (ii) that each applicant be treated like every other. The first of those requirements meant that the applicant was entitled to be told of the concerns about his own case, but not the details of any rival. The authority had therefore not been obliged to disclose the rival application.
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