Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Moyna v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKHL 44 2003 1 wlr 1929, it was found that where there is a question of fact or law, the courts make a decision based on convenience on which body ought to call the final say in any given matter.
Facts of the Case
- D had numerous illnesses, one of which involved a heart condition which meant that where they exerted themselves for a period of time, they would suffer pain and discomfort.
- Given the above, D applied for a disability allowance, which was refused by an adjudication officer justified by the fact that D failed to meet the requirement under section 72(1)(a)(ii) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 which requires that D’s disability must extend to them not being able to cook a meal for themselves.
- As such, D decided to appeal this decision by the officer to the disability appeal tribunal who rejected her appeal after finding out the D was in fact capable of preparing a meal “on most days.”
- D then appealed to the Social Security Commissioner and asserted that the tribunal had incorrectly interpreted the requirements of section 72(1)(a)(ii).
- The Court of Appeal overturned the Social Security Commissioner’s decision and held that the Tribunal made a mistake of law when interpreting section 72(1)(a)(ii).
- C then appealed to the House of Lords and asserted that D’s disability to determine whether they could cook a meal or not was a question of fact rather than law and as such was not capable of being reviewed by the courts.
- Did D fulfil the statutory requirements under section 72(1)(a)(ii)?
- Did the Tribunal make a determination of law which could be reviewed by the courts?
Held by the House of Lords
- The House of Lords allowed the appeal on the basis that the Tribunal did not make a mistake of law when interpreting section 72(1)(a)(ii).
- Lord Hoffman discusses the cooking test in section 72(1)(a)(ii) and finds that it is a hypothetical test and it isn’t necessarily significant whether D needs to cook. His Lordship also highlighted the importance of adopting “a broad view of the matter.” [17-19]
- “In any case in which a tribunal has to apply a standard with a greater or lesser degree of imprecision and to take a number of factors into account, there are bound to be cases in which it will be impossible for a reviewing court to say that the tribunal must have erred in law in deciding the case either way.”