• In the case of Castle v Crown Prosecution Service 2014 ewhc 587 the critical legal principle established was that the secretary of state can delegate their powers to enact subordinate legislation under the Carltona Principle.
  • Carltona v Commissioners of works [1943] 2 All ER 560; In the event, a statute grants power to the secretary of state, the court will treat the decision of a departmental official as being one made by the secretary of state without violating the rule against delegation.

Facts of the Case

  • The appellant, Mr. Castle was convicted of an offence on February 21, 2012, when he was caught driving his motorcycle on the M62 motorway at a speed of 59mph in contravention (against) the M62 motorways speed limit of 50mph.
  • Mr. Castle later appeals against this conviction.

Issues in Castle v Crown Prosecution Service 2014 ewhc 587

  • Mr. Castle agreed on the fact that in February he did drive his motorcycle on the M62, in contravention of the 1984 Act.
  • Instead, the appellant challenged the enforceability of the alleged offence in the High Court, this was done on four grounds;
  • (1) The 2011 order did not authorise the traffic authority to impose various speed limits upon the stretch of road concerned at different times (“variable speed limits”)
  • (2) The 1984 Act did not permit the imposition of variable speed limits.
  • (3) The 2011 order is ultra vires (Beyond) the power given by the 1984 Act because it’s signed and/or made by an employee of the highway agency.
  • (4) By section 121A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the traffic authority concerning section 14 is the secretary of state. The secretary of state had no power to delegate his authority to impose variable speed limits. Due to this, the variable speed limit through the order was ultra vires the statutory power. 

Held by the Court of Appeal

  • Mr. Castle’s appeal to the initial verdict was dismissed, as it was decided that the order was lawfully made thus the offence was declared enforceable.

Lord Justice Pitchford

  • “The Highways Agency is the alter ego of the Department for Transport for the areas for which the Secretary of State accepts responsibility in Parliament, just as he does for the actions of civil servants housed under his departmental roof. It is plain to me that the Carltona principle applies with equal force to judgments made by the Highways Agency to manage traffic by imposing variable speed limits under the 1984 Act and the 2011 Order when conditions require, as it did to the Benefits Agency making decisions as to the proper payment of benefits.”: [24]
  • “It would, in my judgment, be completely unrealistic to think that the Secretary of State could give his attention to the traffic speed restriction orders needed to keep traffic on the motorways of England and Wales working as they need. Of course, he must devolve the duty to make those orders to those properly qualified to make the judgment.”: [28]