Moved by Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
1: Clause 1, page 1, leave out line 9Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment, and others in the name of Lord Marks to Clause 1, would remove the power to include provision in quashing orders removing or limiting their retrospective effect (“prospective only quashing orders”).
My Lords, Amendments 1 to 3 in my name remove the power to make a quashing order prospective only or otherwise to limit its retrospective effect. These amendments replicate amendments tabled in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, who unfortunately already had commitments abroad for today when I put down these amendments and so cannot be here.
This debate is not about the power to suspend a quashing order, which in some cases, we agree, may be a reasonable step. However, that is a far cry from a court on the one hand deciding that government action or regulation is unlawful, so that the court is going to make a quashing order, but then on the other hand being empowered to say that past unlawful action must stand, just as if it had been lawful. That is the effect of new subsection (4), which says that
“the impugned act is … upheld in any respect in which … subsection (1)(b) prevents it from being quashed”,
and of new subsection (5), which says that
“it is to be treated for all purposes as if its validity and force were, and always had been, unimpaired by the relevant defect.”
That is to validate unlawful action that the courts find expressly contravened the law—usually law made by Parliament.
I do not accept that the principle that unlawful action or regulation should be quashed ought to be abandoned simply because there may be hard cases for those who had relied on the law, as they wrongly believed it to be, and may be wrong-footed by the decision that the Government had acted unlawfully. In that category falls the songwriters’ case in 2015, mentioned in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, where those who had innocently copied CDs in the belief that they were entitled to do so were found to have acted on the basis of an unlawful regulation.
Such hard cases may be addressed either by administrative action, where unlawful activity before the law was clarified would go unpunished, or by a suspended quashing order, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and I argued in Committee, giving Parliament the chance to correct any possible injustice, if necessary retrospectively. After all, it is for Parliament to change the law, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, pointed out—not for judges to decide to overlook a failure by government to comply with the law’s requirements.
That completely solves the dilemma described in Committee by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, in respect of the case of Ahmed, a terrorist asset-freezing case. The noble and learned Lord specifically suggested in that case that a suspended order would give Parliament the time to introduce fresh, lawful regulations.
Even more important to be weighed in the balance than the risk of hard cases are the fundamental principles that underly judicial review: that government must act within the law, that there must be remedies to correct unlawful action and that judicial review is public law in action. Orders made on judicial review are for everyone, not just the applicant before the court but all affected citizens, past, present and future. Many potential applicants cannot afford to apply for JR or simply do not know they can or how to go about it, yet this proposal would expose them to the consequences of unlawful executive action, even if a later challenge by a better-funded and more savvy litigant succeeded. If enacted, this new subsection would fire the starting gun on an unseemly race for justice.
It cannot be right for judges to be able to find that, for example, a tax was unlawful and in excess of power, yet to hold—after thousands of citizens may have paid that tax—that they will quash the unlawful regulation but that, because the sums involved were low, it would be disproportionate to repay all those who have paid, and so quash it only prospectively, leaving those who have already paid the tax cheated and out of pocket.
That is not the end of it. What about those who have not paid up? The unlawful regulation and the unwarranted demands remain effective for them, treated, in the words of new subsection (5),
“for all purposes as if its validity and force were, and always had been, unimpaired by the relevant defect.”
The Minister’s only answer to this conundrum in Committee was that it was
“almost incomprehensible that a court would use” the power
“where people have paid taxes that were necessarily unlawfully raised”.—[
That is no answer, especially in the light of the presumption that the courts should generally exercise the power. The only respectable answer is not to give them the power.
In the environmental field, this power would probably put us in breach of our international obligations. We are bound by Article 9 of the Aarhus convention of 1998 to accord to all members of the public with a sufficient interest the right
“to challenge acts and omissions by … public authorities which contravene … national law relating to the environment.”
We are further bound by paragraph 4 of the same article to provide them all with “adequate and effective remedies” for infringement. Environmental law is central to public law and frequently the subject of judicial review. We would not be complying with the convention by denying members of the public who do not get in first the right to enforce the law. That is what prospective-only quashing orders would do. I doubt that such orders can be an adequate remedy.
Furthermore, in a case involving judicial review of unlawful executive action breaching a citizen’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, this new subsection seems to run the risk of being a denial of the citizen’s Article 13 right to an effective remedy. That article guarantees that:
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority”.
I suggest that an effective remedy is denied to a citizen whose right of action is stymied because some other litigant who was quicker off the mark in the race for a remedy has previously been granted a prospective-only quashing order.
This is not, as it has been described by the Government, a case of a harmless discretionary power in the judicial toolbox. It is a case of handing to judges the power to validate actions of the Executive that the court finds violated the laws passed by Parliament.
I will say very little about the presumption that is the subject of the amendment in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, Lord Pannick and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton. I add only this to what I said in Committee: the presumption makes the denial of justice inherent in Clause 1(1) that much worse because, however many times the Minister may describe this as a “low-level” presumption and seek to persuade your Lordships that judges will always find ways not to implement it, the fact remains that it sets a default position to which conscientious judges are bound in law to adhere. In the absence of a finding of good reason not to do so, and provided that “adequate” redresses are offered
“in relation to the relevant defect”,
the court must both suspend a quashing order and remove, or limit, its retrospectivity. One is entitled to ask: “adequate redress” for whom? What does that expression mean, especially for the luckless loser in the race for justice which I mentioned? I do not believe that, to date, the Minister has given an adequate response. I beg to move.
In the absences of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, who has unfortunately caught Covid, and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, I shall speak to Amendment 4. This would remove subsections (9) and (10) of the proposed new Section 29A of the Senior Courts Act 1981. This amendment is supported by the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and the Public Law Project.
Subsections (9) and (10) are not based on any recommendation from the Independent Review of Administrative Law chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Faulks. Subsection (9) is either constitutionally dangerous or unnecessary. It reads like a straightforward presumption in favour of making one of the two new quashing orders—a suspended or prospective-only quashing order. If that is a correct reading, it will be for the courts to say what its proper interpretation is. Subsection (9) is constitutionally dangerous and inappropriate as providing a precedent for interference by the Executive with the exercise of judicial discretion. Furthermore, it is contrary to the rule of law in so far as it limits the remedies which are available to set right the unlawfulness of conduct by the state.
In Committee, the Minister said that subsection (9) is not a presumption in the sense of
“trying to fetter judicial discretion or to steer … the courts to a particular decision.”
He said that it will be
“up to the court to decide what remedy is appropriate in the individual circumstances of the particular case”,—[
One must ask what the purpose of subsection (9) is. Is it necessary at all? The Minister explained that its purpose is to encourage the development of jurisprudence applicable to the new quashing remedies by requiring the court to consider those remedies positively. If subsection (9) is not, as it appears to be, a straightforward presumption, there is absolutely nothing in the wording of the subsection to support the Minister’s explanation as to its purpose. It is completely unnecessary, following the Minister’s interpretation, because the court is bound to take into account all the circumstances and remedies available in the case of unlawful conduct by the state, and taking into account all the “relevant” matters is specifically required by subsection (8).
Moreover, whatever the reason for the presence of subsection (9), it will encourage further litigation by way of appeal, as it introduces the hard-edged test in subsection (9)(b) that one of the new quashing orders
“would, as a matter of substance, offer adequate redress in relation to the relevant defect”.
That is a hard-edged test and not a discretion. It plainly raises the possibility of widespread disagreement. In short, no good purpose is served by subsections (9) and (10)—only bad purposes—and they should be removed.
My Lords, Clause 1 gives judges a new power. I suggest that this is a power which enables them to do justice better between the parties, and to avoid some of the hard edges which currently obtain. Remedies in judicial review have always been discretionary. Nothing about this clause changes that; it simply gives judges an extra club in their bag. It is notable that the clause is shot through with the word “may”.
The clause—the presumption apart—has survived scrutiny by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law on rule of law grounds. It has been welcomed by many judges. Despite what the noble Lord, Lord Marks, said, it is not obvious to me what the problem is with it. On re-reading some of the speeches at Committee, a lot of the opposition to the clause was on the basis that it gave the judges too much power. It is something of an irony that the rhetoric against the Government’s plans in respect to judicial review was that they were intending to clip judges’ wings in an executive power grab. Now the objection is that judges will have too much power and will make inroads into what has sometimes been described as the “metaphysics of nullity”.
I assure your Lordships that the Independent Review of Administrative Law was genuinely independent. I suppose that I might be regarded as having a political bias, but no such allegation could be made against my fellow panellists. It is unfortunate that the Labour Party oppose this clause in its entirety—this looks a little bit like political posturing. I very much hope that the House will not be divided on this.
The most compelling argument in favour of the clause can be found in the article published in the Times last week by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, which I hope that many of your Lordships have read. The noble and learned Lord is in his place today but, as I understand, he may not speak because he cannot be here throughout the entire debate and, with a great adherence to the customs and practices of your Lordships’ House, he will not necessarily intervene. His cri de cœur at the end of the article was to regret that the power which is given by this Bill in Clause 1 had not existed when he was sitting in the Supreme Court in HM Treasury v Ahmed. Indeed, it is unfortunate that it was not.
The objection to the presumption is, on the other hand, much more understandable. There seems to be two points: does it fetter the judge’s discretion and, if not, does the presumption add anything? I am not convinced that it will fetter the judge’s discretion. He or she will be able to grant the relevant remedy so as to do justice in the particular case. I do not expect a judge to come to a conclusion which he or she would not have reached because of the existence of this rather weak presumption. Putting myself in the position of the hypothetical judge, I would not be diverted. Our judges are made of much sterner stuff.
So why have the presumption in the clause at all? I have struggled a bit with this. The clause does give the judge more flexibility; perhaps the presumption is doing no more than reminding the judge of the new power. I was reminded slightly of the old television advertisements for washing powder. There is only so much you can say about the quality of washing powder once you have emphasised that it washes white, or whiter still, or whiter than other soap powders. Consequently, advertisers used to draw the viewers’ attention to “a new added ingredient”. That is perhaps what the presumption is there for. However, I think that Clause 1 will survive without it.
My Lords, as I have reminded your Lordships’ House before, I have no legal training and so I will use very simple language here.
I have a huge amount of respect for the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson, and I just cannot believe that he is going to convince the House that the Government are right on this because even from a simple point of view, which is what I am going to express, it seems an unjustified attack on the rule of law. Clause 1 is wrong in essence. The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, mentioned an extra club in the bag for judges. I immediately thought of one of the clubs that early humans would have carried around to kill wolves or whatever, but of course he meant a golf club. I can see that he might think an extra golf club is useful, but judges do not need it. Judicial reviews are already difficult, by design, to bring. There are very short timescales in which any claimant can initiate proceedings, and this will reduce the impact on certainty of decision-making. The Government want these hurdles to still be in place, making it hard to win a claim, but now even if you win there is almost no point in bothering.
Restricting judicial reviews in this way will undermine good government. It prevents justice for people who have been done wrong by public authorities, and it lets wrong decisions stand, even where those decisions were unlawful, irrational or procedurally unfair. Democracy goes only so far. Without being tied to the rule of law, we face the tyranny of the majority and an elected dictatorship, which, I argue, is what we have already. My noble friend and I will vote for all these amendments, as unlawful decisions must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.
My Lords, I am in the happy position of having somebody agree with me on every point—but not everybody agrees. The Minister is a remarkable advocate. If he came to my home and we had a family cat, after he had spoken for about two minutes the cat would be convinced that if it wanted a fish, it should dive deep down into the sea, find one at the bottom and bring it out.
The Bill provides a new, additional remedy, and it is a very wise step. Can we please consider situations in which judicial review is involved? A massive judicial review proceeds against—it does not matter who—the Government, a ministry, a local authority, and at the end of the hearing the judge finds there is no unlawfulness about this, that and the other, but yes, there was a moment when the decision-making process was flawed because a small procedural step was not taken. It should be open to the court, having listened to arguments on both sides, to say that that procedural irregularity, although demonstrated, has not affected anybody and therefore the order will not be quashed so all the matters that were in argument can proceed. I see no difficulty about that.
My real problem is that I am very troubled about the way in which the new remedy is circumscribed with the presumption. It gives the opportunity for inaction to the wrongdoer. The Minister said that there is not a very heavy presumption, not much to make a fuss about, besides which there is the development of new jurisprudence—I love the idea of the Government wanting judges to develop new jurisprudence in the field of judicial review and I am very grateful to the Minister for that offer—but the only thing expressly required of a judge considering judicial review is to apply the presumption. Why is there not a presumption or a consideration that says that the judge must look at how determined the wrongdoer was to persist in his unlawful action? That would a consideration too, would it not? There is none of that in the Bill—it is just simply this presumption. I respectfully suggest that it is a heavy presumption, because it is the only one which appears in the Bill or which directs the court to a particular starting point.
As for the specialist judges—and they are specialist judges—the idea that they will not know about this new remedy and consider it is simply barking. Even if the judge had a bad moment and forgot about it, can you imagine any advocate acting for the wrongdoer who wished to have the order stand not drawing his or her attention to the presumption and saying, “This is the starting point, my Lord”? The judge will wake up and think about it. To enact legislation to encourage judges to develop jurisprudence is, if I may say so, one of the least good arguments that the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson, has offered in his whole forensic career.
Judicial review is a discretionary remedy. The judge, having considered whether unlawfulness has been established —that is the first question and let us not overlook it—finds that it has. He then examines the nature of the unlawfulness. Is it fundamental? Is it procedural? Is it important procedural? Is it minimal procedural? Then he or she reflects on all the considerations that have come to bear—in other words, all the facts of the case—and makes a decision. Judges really do not need to have more than the broad discretion that judicial review has always offered, and which has made it one of the most fantastic developments in our administrative law in my professional career.
My Lords, I oppose these amendments. The power to make a prospective quashing order brings clear benefits. Such an order has more teeth than a mere declaration that a Secretary of State has acted unlawfully. It would be able to indicate that regulations will be quashed within a certain time from the date of judgment unless the Secretary of State in the meantime has properly performed his statutory duties and considered in the light of that exercise whether the regulations need to be revised and, if so, in what form. It is hard to see why that is not beneficial.
Further, the ability to make such orders will be especially useful in high-profile constitutional cases where it would be desirable for the court explicitly to acknowledge the supremacy of Parliament, and in cases where it is possible for a public body, given time, to cure a defect that has rendered its initial exercise of public power unlawful. I note that in his powerful piece in the Times last week, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, wrote that he strongly supported giving the court these powers. As he explained, these powers are not quite so radical as some suggest and, as we have heard, judicial review has always been a discretionary remedy.
The noble and learned Lord pointed out that
“high-profile cases well illustrate how discretion may properly be exercised against giving relief that would have disproportionate consequences for past events”.
He pointed to two examples:
“In Hurley and Moore … in 2012 the Divisional Court declined to quash the ministerial order permitting universities to increase student fees to £9,000. Quashing, the court said, ‘would cause administrative chaos’”.
He also explained that as long ago as 2005 in the House of Lords, in the case of Re Spectrum, seven of the court
“recognised that prospective overruling of erroneous decisions could be necessary”—
I stress that word—
“in the interests of justice where the decision would otherwise be ‘gravely unfair and (have) disruptive consequences for past transactions or happenings’. Although it was not exercised in that case, the power was recognised by five” members of the court. It will ensure sensible, good administration. It will not bring injustice. These are real benefits.
As for the presumption, I have listened carefully and with the greatest respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, but on this occasion I must differ from him. It is only a presumption; it means merely that the court must start from there. It is, as my noble friend Lord Faulks explained, a flag; it points it out; it reminds the court. It does not impose a destination. If there is good reason not to make such an order, the court will be obliged to follow its conscience and depart from the principle—but, if there is not good reason, why should there be a problem? In short, the court is simply prompted to do what good reason dictates.
This clause does not damage the rule of law. It is reasonable and just.
My Lords, the Labour Party supports the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, to remove the statutory presumption and make it clear that judicial remedies should be restricted in this way only in exceptional circumstances. The clause’s effect would be for courts to have less power to provide redress or to compensate those affected by past uses of the unlawful decision. At first glance, that might seem quite a small change to judicial review, but the effects, we believe, would be chilling.
There is widespread opposition to the clause, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, quoted a number of the well-respected groups who oppose it. The noble Lord, Lord Marks, cited in particular environmental groups that are worried about the potential effects of the Government’s proposals. I listened very carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Faulks. It is my understanding that the Independent Review of Administrative Law did not recommend prospective-only remedies; it did not recommend presumption for suspended quashing orders; it did not recommend imposing on the courts a list of factors to determine their use; and nor did it recommend ouster clauses. Even the Government’s own consultation paper conceded that a prospective-only quashing order would impose injustice and unfairness on those who have reasonably relied on its validity in the past.
Suspended and prospective quashing orders offer delayed and forward-only remedies. Such remedies could allow environmentally damaging activities to continue in the period between a contested decision and the taking effect of a suspended or prospective-only quashing order.
I listened to the debate with great interest. It was particularly interesting to hear senior lawyers and former judges disagreeing on the points which we have just heard. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, as is typically the case when he speaks, very simply explained his perspective. I think his point was that judges already have broad discretion. They do not need a presumption. A presumption is the only guidance put in the Bill and it is not necessary. He went on to laud the huge benefits we have seen through judicial review and seemed to think that the guidance of the word “presumption” in the Bill would be disproportionately influential, if I may put it like that. That was contested by other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, but surely if that serves as guidance in the Bill, it will be followed unless there is good reason not to—that is the way I understand it.
So we will certainly support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. We will also support the noble Lord, Lord Marks, if he chooses to press any of his amendments to a vote. We see the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, as a compromise amendment that is more in the spirit of the recommendations of the independent review. Nevertheless, the more profound points made by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, are views which we would support if he chose to press his amendments to a vote.
My Lords, I begin by wishing the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, well and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, a safe trip home.
This clause aims to reform remedies on quashing orders in judicial review proceedings so that more flexibility is available to the courts. As my noble friend Lord Faulks noted in Committee, the key for the Independent Review of Administrative Law was that there should be some flexibility to stop some of the “hard edges” that can arise with a quashing order, which operates ab initio, such that the decision is struck down with retrospective effect. This clause is designed to do just that.
I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, for his kind words—dare I say that I wish his cat well?—but I confess that I think he expressed the reasons for the remedial flexibility better than I will. I shall come to the presumption point on which we regrettably differ a little later.
The proposed effect of the clause is twofold. First, it allows for the effects of a quashing order to be suspended, or delayed, for a period. Secondly, the clause enhances the flexibility of the court in allowing it to decide whether the retrospective effect of a quashing order should be removed or limited—that is what we are calling a prospective quashing order. As a number of noble Lords referenced, both in Committee and in indeed in print last week in the Times law section, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, who has not participated for reasons which have been explained, has set out clearly the arguments for this additional remedial flexibility. The way he put it in Committee, where he said that Clause 1 confers on the judiciary a power
“to do justice not just to the claimant in a particular case but on a wider basis”—[
Against that background, I come to Amendments 1, 2 and 3 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Marks, which would remove prospective-only quashing orders. The noble Lord made a point which has been made before in this regard, which is that there could be situations where a prospective quashing order could cause significant injustice if used incorrectly. The short answer to that point is that we are not forcing the court to use these orders in any case. Just because a power is capable of being exercised, it does not follow that it will be used inappropriately. That is the short answer to the tax case example. It is the answer I gave in Committee, and I stand by it. I say respectfully that I do not think that that sort of example proves any wider point of principle; it is merely an example of a case where this particular remedial order would be inappropriate—in which case the court would not use it. I suggest that that is a complete answer to the tax case example.
The principle of the matter was also covered in this debate. Where we have reached essentially a disagreement is on the constitutional propriety of a court deciding that an unlawful action should nevertheless have some effect and be treated as if it were valid. The short point there is that a judge does not need to go outside their remit of doing justice to the claimant and to the public interest in deciding to use a prospective quashing order. I set out in Committee how such an order could deliver a much fairer and appropriate result in a range of circumstances. I invite the House to consider whether there is a principled distinction between a suspended order and a prospective order. I suggest that the matter comes down to this: you are either in favour of remedial flexibility or you are not. Both proposed new remedies seek to give the courts remedial flexibility. As I shall mention later in the context of Canadian jurisprudence, what we see there are strong conceptual links between the suspended order and the prospective-only order.
Amendment 4 would remove subsections (9) and (10), known as “the presumption”, the intended effect of which is to ensure that the courts will use either prospective or suspended quashing orders if—and this is an important “if”—doing so would provide adequate redress, and unless the court considers that it has “good reason” not to do so. We have heard in this debate good examples of where these remedies would be useful. Against that, two arguments are put with regard to the presumption.
The first argument is that presumption is harmful because it impinges on judicial discretion, and the second is that it is entirely unnecessary because it does not constrain the court in any material manner. The court will use these remedies anyway when it wants to do so. The first point, which is obvious, is that both those points cannot be right: they are materially inconsistent. If I may so, respectfully, only the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, could have managed, with his customary skill, to put both points against me in the same speech. They are inconsistent; I will, nevertheless, take them in turn.
First, I do not accept that the presumption is in any way dangerous or harmful. It is, I repeat, a low-level presumption. The presumption applies only, according to subsection (9) of the new clause inserted by Clause 1,
“unless it sees good reason not to do so”; the court does not have to use these remedies. Therefore, I respectfully disagree that there is any attack here on the rule of law. Indeed, to respond to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, the effect of these new remedies—as I think I said in Committee—might be that the Government lose more judicial reviews, because the court might be more prepared to interfere in circumstances where the consequences of the court’s ruling is not a complete ab initio uprooting of the decision. Therefore, far from limiting judicial review in favour of the Government, if anything, this actually helps applicants in their judicial reviews against the Government.
The other argument, that it is unnecessary, does have more force. Here I come back to the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. We heard an example from the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, about washing powder. Dare I say that what follows now is not meant to be “soft soap”, if I can continue that metaphor? The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said that my argument on this point was the least attractive argument that I have ever made either in the court of Parliament or in the Law Courts. I am not sure that he appreciates just how high a bar he set by that test.
The purpose of including a low-level presumption is to do just that: it is to nudge the court to consider and use these new remedies where they are appropriate, and to build up a strong body of case law to increase legal certainty. In Canada, as I mentioned earlier, there are the Schachter categories, which have established guidelines for the use of suspended quashing orders. Their use actually encompasses what we would call prospective quashing orders as well. We envisage that this presumption in subsection (9) will nudge the courts into that more rapid accumulation of jurisprudence.
I think that if I were to say any more, I really would be repeating arguments with which the House is now familiar. For the reasons that I have set out, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, before I seek to test the opinion of the House—which I propose to do—I will make two short points. I do not accept that there is no distinction between a suspended quashing order—which we accept is sensible in the interests of what the Minister referred to as remedial flexibility—and a prospective-only quashing order. The remedial flexibility in a suspended quashing order addresses entirely the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, in his article in the Times, and also addresses the point made in the Ahmed case, as explained by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, in Committee.
The objection, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, to the prospective-only quashing order is not only that his independent review recommended suspended quashing orders, but it did not recommend prospective-only quashing orders. The important objections to prospective-only quashing orders are, first, not that they give the judges too much power, but that the power they give is to validate unlawful action before the date on which the quashing order is made—action that is ex hypothesi unlawful because that is what the court determines. Secondly, they would deprive litigants of a remedy if they have already suffered from the unlawfulness before the date of the quashing order.
The Minister said, incomprehensibly, that he stood by the answer that a quashing order would be made in the tax case. We say that the tax case illustrates the very danger of the court having the power to quash prospectively only. For those reasons, I respectfully seek the opinion of the House.
Ayes 148, Noes 143.