• In the case of M v Home Office [1994] 1 AC 377, the Court can use injunctions to enforce the law against the Crown and its ministers.
  • In this case, it was found that the Crown and its ministers could be liable in tort, even if their actions were carried out of official capacity.

Facts of the Case

  • C, who was a citizen of Zaire, sought asylum in the UK.
  • The Home Office deported C, which contravened Garland J’s injunction which sought C’s return.
  • The Court of Appeal found that the Home Secretary committed contempt of court for not complying with the injunction.


  • Could the injunction be used against the Crown?

Held by the House of Lords

  • The House of Lords dismissed the appeal and found that the court can impose injunctions against ministers of the Crown, who are not immune to contempt proceedings.

Lord Templeman

  • This was the first time a minister of the Crown was found to be in contempt of court.
  • The court emphasised the possibility of a minister being held liable in both their personal and professional capacities, which means that even if a minister is acting outside of his or her official capacity, they can still be found to be in contempt of court.
  • “My Lords, the argument that there is no power to enforce the law by injunction or contempt proceedings against a minister in his official capacity would, if upheld, establish the proposition that the executive obey the law as a matter of grace and not as a matter of necessity, a proposition which would reverse the result of the Civil War.” [395]
  • “The judges cannot enforce the law against the Crown as Monarch because the Crown as Monarch can do no wrong but judges can enforce the law against the Crown as executive and against the individuals who from time to time represent the Crown.” [396]

Lord Woolf

  • “This was the first time that a minister of the Crown had been found to be in contempt by a court. The finding of contempt was made for not complying with an injunction granted by Garland J. ordering M., who had made a claim for asylum, which was rejected by the Home Office, to be returned to this country. The Court of Appeal did not regard the contempt as requiring any punishment of Mr. Baker other than that he pay the costs of the appeal and, in so far as they related to the proceedings brought against him, in the court below.”