Delve into the Bromley LBC v Greater London Council [1983] case summary, a fundamental read for law students interested in administrative law and statutory interpretation.

  • In the case of Bromley LBC v Greater London Council 1983 1 AC 768 it was found that Greater London Council were in breach of its statutory duty and fiduciary duty to balance the interests of ratepayers and transport users fairly.

Facts of the Case

  • The Greater London Council in accordance with a resolution passed in implementation of an election manifesto issued a precept to all London boroughs to levy a supplementary rate of 6.1p in the pound to enable the Greater London Council to finance by grant to the London Transport executive the cost of reducing London transport bus and tube fares by 25%.
  • The London Borough of Bromley applied for judicial review by way of certiorari.
  • The decision of the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division refusing the application was reversed by the Court of Appeal which quashed the percent to zero.

Issues in Bromley LBC v Greater London Council 1983 1 AC 768

  • The main issue in this case was whether Greater London Council were able to increase their rates imposed on London Boroughs.

Held by House of Lords

  • Appeal dismissed.

Lord Wilberforce

  • Greater London Council owed a fiduciary duty to the ratepayers to have regard to their interests and further on the true construction of the Transport (London) Act 1969, in particular sections 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 11, the Greater London Council and the London Transport Executive were under obligations to conduct transport services on business principles attempting to avoid a deficit and that accordingly, although grants might be made for revenue as well as capital purposes, ensuring so far as practical, that outgoings were met by revenue both the Greater London Council and the London Transport Executive had acted ultra vires.
  • “It makes no difference on the question of legality… whether the impugned action was or was not submitted to or approved by the relevant electorate: that cannot confer validity upon ulta vires action… the Greater London Council in so far as it considered that it has a commitment bring about the reduction in fares, regardless of other considerations misdirected itself in law” p.814 A

Lord Diplock and Lord Brandon of Oakbrook

  • “The G.L.C. was in error in believing itself bound to implement the manifesto approved by the electorate (post, pp. 829E-F, 830G -831A, 853A-B). Per Lord Diplock. The Act must be considered, not in isolation, but in the light of the structure and status of the G.L.C. as a local authority implying limitations not expressed in the Act and though the Act conferred on the G.L.C. considerable powers to determine fares and to make grants on revenue account to finance present and any prospective deficits, this precept represented a thriftless use of money in breach of its fiduciary duty to the ratepayers.” (post, pp. 821E-H, 823A-B, 826H – 827C, E – 828A, 830D-F)

Significance of the Case on the Development of the Law

The Bromley LBC v Greater London Council [1983] case is a critical milestone in understanding the limitations of statutory powers and fiduciary duties of governmental bodies. This case’s significance can be highlighted through its impact on several key legal principles and related cases:

  1. Restrictions on Statutory Powers: This case emphasized that actions taken by a governmental body must align strictly with statutory provisions, as similarly seen in Padfield v Minister of Agriculture [1968], where actions of public bodies were scrutinized to ensure they did not frustrate the purpose of the statute.
  2. Fiduciary Duties of Governmental Bodies: The fiduciary responsibilities highlighted in this case echo the principles in Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v Lannon [1969], where the fiduciary duties of public officials were underlined, emphasizing the need for impartiality and fairness.
  3. Judicial Review of Administrative Decisions: The principles from Bromley have been applied in numerous subsequent judicial reviews, such as in R (on the application of G) v Governors of X School [2011], where the court’s role in reviewing administrative decisions to ensure legality and fairness was further established.

Exam Questions and Answers

Below you will find answers to questions that are most commonly asked based on this case.

How does this case influence current UK policies on public transportation funding?

The Bromley case underscores the necessity for local councils to adhere strictly to legislative guidelines when allocating budgets, particularly for public transportation. It serves as a basis for the guidelines stipulated in the Transport Act 2000, which aims to ensure that such funding decisions are made transparently and align with both local needs and statutory requirements.

2. What are the implications of this ruling for the autonomy of local governments in budgetary matters?

This ruling reinforces that while local governments have autonomy, their actions must conform to statutory limitations. This principle is echoed in the Local Government Finance Act 1992, which provides a framework within which local budgeting decisions must operate, ensuring they do not exceed their legal powers.

3. How has judicial review evolved in ensuring governmental accountability since this decision?

Since the Bromley decision, judicial review has expanded significantly, particularly with the introduction of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which further defined the judiciary’s role in overseeing government actions. This act helps ensure that executive decisions respect legal limits, bolstering accountability by providing clearer separation and balance of powers.