A Leading Commercial List
Overview <ul><li>Obligations to provide reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Content of reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequacy of reaso...
Obligations to provide reasons <ul><li>Judicial bodies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Service Board of NSW v Osmond  (1986) ...
Content of reasons <ul><li>Reasons are meant to inform and are not to be scrutinised in an over-zealous fashion:  Wu Shan ...
Content of reasons <ul><li>State the decision </li></ul><ul><li>Contain the findings on material questions of fact, includ...
Inadequacy of reasons under the  Administrative Law Act
Administrative Law Act <ul><li>Section 8 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tribunal shall, if requested to do so by any person affec...
Inadequate reasons as an error of law? <ul><li>Does it follow from the provision of inadequate  reasons  that the  decisio...
Sherlock v Lloyd  [2010] VSCA 122 <ul><li>“ The provision of an inadequate statement of reasons is not, by itself, an erro...
Sherlock v Lloyd: 4 arguments <ul><li>Argument 1: Adequate reasons as a condition of legality of the decision </li></ul><u...
Sherlock v Lloyd: 4 arguments <ul><li>Argument 3: ALA, s 8(1) was enactment of procedural fairness obligation to give adeq...
Sherlock v Lloyd: remedies <ul><li>ALA, s 8(4) </li></ul><ul><li>Mandamus </li></ul>
Broader implications? <ul><li>Court of Appeal in  Sherlock  emphasised scope of appeal limited to construction of ALA </li...
VCAT Act: decision-makers <ul><li>Section 46 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A decision-maker must give a written statement of reaso...
VCAT Act: the VCAT <ul><li>Section 117 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Tribunal must give reasons for any order it makes in a pr...
VCAT Act: the VCAT <ul><li>Bases for revisiting  Dalla-Riva </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sherlock v Lloyd </li></ul></ul><ul><ul>...
Conclusions <ul><li>Challenging party may have strategic reasons not to rely on ALA, s 8(4) or mandamus </li></ul><ul><li>...
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Judicial Review for Inadequacy of Reasons

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Paper presented by Chris Young, List A Barristers at a seminar hosted by Maddocks Lawyers

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Judicial Review for Inadequacy of Reasons

  1. 1. A Leading Commercial List
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Obligations to provide reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Content of reasons </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequacy of reasons as an error of law? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Obligations to provide reasons <ul><li>Judicial bodies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Service Board of NSW v Osmond (1986) 159 CLR 656 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soulemezis v Dudley (1987) 10 NSWLR 247 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Administrative bodies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>common law: Osmond’s Case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>statute: Administrative Law Act , VCAT Act </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Arbitrators </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial Arbitration Act </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Content of reasons <ul><li>Reasons are meant to inform and are not to be scrutinised in an over-zealous fashion: Wu Shan Liang (1996) 185 CLR 259 </li></ul><ul><li>From absence of reasons, or inadequate reasons, infer no good reason or that body has failed to exercise its powers according to law: Avon Downs v FCT (1949) 78 CLR 353 at 360 (Dixon J) , MIA v SZDMS (2010) 240 CLR 611 at 623 (Gummow ACJ and Kiefel J) , Repatriation Commission v O’Brien (1985) 155 CLR 422 at 445-446 (Brennan J) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Content of reasons <ul><li>State the decision </li></ul><ul><li>Contain the findings on material questions of fact, including a specification of the relevant law </li></ul><ul><li>Refer to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based </li></ul><ul><li>Give the real reasons / logical explanation for the decision and be an accurate reflection of the decision-making process </li></ul><ul><li>Must be intelligible to the person seeking the reasons so as to enable an informed decision about whether to challenge the decision </li></ul><ul><li>Standard of reasons as reflective of nature of dispute </li></ul>
  6. 6. Inadequacy of reasons under the Administrative Law Act
  7. 7. Administrative Law Act <ul><li>Section 8 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tribunal shall, if requested to do so by any person affected by a decision made or to be made by it, furnish him with a statement of its reasons for the decision. … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(4) The Supreme Court, upon being satisfied by the person making the request that a reasonable time has elapsed without any such statement of reasons for the decision having been furnished or that the only statement of reasons furnished is not adequate to enable a Court to see whether the decision does or does not involve any error of law, may order the tribunal to furnish … a statement or further statement of its reasons … </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Inadequate reasons as an error of law? <ul><li>Does it follow from the provision of inadequate reasons that the decision ought be quashed? </li></ul><ul><li>Yes for judicial bodies: Soulemezis (failure to fulfil a function which the law called upon the court to exercise) </li></ul><ul><li>Yes for arbitrators: Oil Basins (at least pending Gordian Runoff appeal) </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative bodies? (an assumed yes based on Full Federal Court in Dornan v Riordan ) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Sherlock v Lloyd [2010] VSCA 122 <ul><li>“ The provision of an inadequate statement of reasons is not, by itself, an error of law” </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal from opinion of medical panel under Accident Compensation Act where accepted that reasons were inadequate </li></ul><ul><li>Court of Appeal upheld Kyrou J </li></ul><ul><li>Kyrou J had refused to follow a series of first instance decisions dating from 1991. Similarly, Bongiorno J had doubted those earlier decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Two judges subsequently refused to follow Kyrou J in Sherlock v Lloyd </li></ul>
  10. 10. Sherlock v Lloyd: 4 arguments <ul><li>Argument 1: Adequate reasons as a condition of legality of the decision </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dornan v Riordan (1990) 24 FCR 564 distinguished </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Giving of reasons not a requirement of, or step in, decision-making power but a separate and distinct step, subsequent to the decision </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Argument 2: ALA, s 10 (reasons as part of the decision) implied inadequacy of reasons was error of law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasons are a part of the record but inadequacy of reasons as an error of law must be established otherwise than by s 10 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ALA did not change the substantive law, so applicant for relief must make out established ground of review </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Sherlock v Lloyd: 4 arguments <ul><li>Argument 3: ALA, s 8(1) was enactment of procedural fairness obligation to give adequate reasons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Although a tribunal, which is obliged to afford procedural fairness, is obliged by s 8 to provide reasons (on request), this does not make it an aspect of the procedural fairness obligation that adequate reasons be provided. The ALA was built on the existing common law rules of procedural fairness, as stated in Osmond . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It would be quite a different thing to create by legislation a new rule of natural justice obliging a tribunal to give reasons for decision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK cases distinguished </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Argument 4: Failure to give adequate reasons meant tribunal failed to follow procedures required by law to be observed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This ground is only available under the ADJR Act </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Sherlock v Lloyd: remedies <ul><li>ALA, s 8(4) </li></ul><ul><li>Mandamus </li></ul>
  13. 13. Broader implications? <ul><li>Court of Appeal in Sherlock emphasised scope of appeal limited to construction of ALA </li></ul><ul><li>Reasoning arguably has wider reach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reasons under VCAT Act, s 46? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reasons of VCAT itself? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. VCAT Act: decision-makers <ul><li>Section 46 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A decision-maker must give a written statement of reasons for a decision to a person as soon as practical … after receiving a request under section 45. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject to this Act, the statement must set out- </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the reasons for the decision; and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the findings on material questions of fact that led to the decision, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Reasoning in Sherlock v Lloyd seems applicable </li></ul><ul><li>Between the ALA and the VCAT Act, this will catch a significant number of decision-makers </li></ul>
  15. 15. VCAT Act: the VCAT <ul><li>Section 117 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Tribunal must give reasons for any order it makes in a proceeding … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(5) If the Tribunal gives written reasons, it must include in those reasons its findings on material questions of fact. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secretary of Treasury and Finance v Dalla-Riva [2007] VSCA 11 at [23] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ It is necessary that a tribunal’s reasons disclose the findings and reasoning upon which the tribunal’s conclusion is based. Failure to provide such reasons, which frustrates the ability to review the tribunal’s decision, constitutes an error of law.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But references refer to judicial obligation to give adequate reasons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Might this proposition be revisited, at least in relation to the Tribunal in its review jurisdiction? </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. VCAT Act: the VCAT <ul><li>Bases for revisiting Dalla-Riva </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sherlock v Lloyd </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal Court moving away from Dornan v Riordan concerning the similar AAT Act, s 43(2B) ( Comcare v Lees (1997) 151 ALR 647 (Finkelstein J) ; CASA v Central Aviation (2009) 253 ALR 263 (Perram J) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Westport v Gordian Runoff appeal: questions about whether inadequacy of reasons amounts to an error of law and context of public power supporting exercise of arbitrator’s powers ( cf Oil Basins ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A cautionary approach to cross-fertilisation of two kinds: Re Poyser and Mills’ Arbitration </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Conclusions <ul><li>Challenging party may have strategic reasons not to rely on ALA, s 8(4) or mandamus </li></ul><ul><li>But query reliance on inadequacy of reasons as an error of law </li></ul><ul><li>Safer course (though harder one) is to rely on traditional approach of drawing inferences from inadequacy </li></ul>

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