Make it intelligible

March 25th, 2009 by James Goudie QC


One of the circumstances when there is a duty to provide information is when there is a duty to consult. One of the four elements of fair consultation is the provision of adequate information on which to respond. In R(Breckland DC) v The Boundary Committee and R(East Devon DC) v The Boundary Committee (2009) EWCA Civ 239, concerned with proposals for local government reorganisation, the Boundary Committee (BC) was under a statutory duty to solicit representations upon their draft proposals and to take account of those representations. The Court of Appeal today heald that this meant that the BC must carry out a process of consultation, including publishing enough material to enable all those interested to respond intelligently, and that the information must be published in a form which members of the public can understand. The Court of Appeal further held that the BC had failed adequately to consult on affordability, because they had not provided sufficiently intelligible information in relation to that criterion or given adequate time for response to it.