R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex p Fire Brigades Union

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R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Fire Brigades Union
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Court House of Lords
Decided 5 April 1995
Citation(s) [1995] 2 AC 513, [1995] 2 All ER 244, [1995] 2 WLR 464
Transcript(s) [1]
Case history
Prior action(s) [1995] 1 All ER 888
Appealed from Court of Appeal
Subsequent action(s) None
Court membership
Judges sitting Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Mustill, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead
Judicial review

R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Fire Brigades Union [1995] 2 AC 513[1] was a House of Lords case concerning the awarding of compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The case is considered significant in constitutional terms for its ruling on the extent of Ministerial prerogative powers.


The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was set up under Ministerial prerogative powers to provide ex gratia compensation payments to victims of crime. Compensation was assessed on an individual basis by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 was to introduce a statutory scheme for criminal injuries compensation with several sections coming into law (by statutory instrument) on a date of the Home Secretary's choosing. However, the government rather than implementing this legislation amended a non-statutory tariff based scheme under the royal prerogative.[2] This tariff based scheme would save money by awarding less compensation. A trade Union sought judicial review of the decision of the Home Secretary not to bring into force the compensation scheme in the 1988 Act.

Court of Appeal[edit]

The Court of Appeal ruled that there was no enforceable duty in the Home Secretary to bring the legislation into force at any particular time.[3] The Home Secretary was held to have the discretion to implement the legislation when he felt it was appropriate and to compel the Home Secretary to Act would be to interfere with the legislative process. However, it would be an abuse of power to not implement the legislation as the Home Secretary was under a duty to keep the question of when the legisation should be implemented under review.

House of Lords[edit]

The House of Lords ruled by a majority of 3-2 that the Home Secretary had acted unlawfully.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKHL/1995/3.html
  2. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt199899/jtselect/jtpriv/43/43ap43.htm
  3. ^ http://webjcli.ncl.ac.uk/articles3/leigh3.html