R v North Derbyshire Health Authority [1997] (Queen's Bench Division)

Kenneth Graeme Fisher suffered from relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and lived in the area of the respondent health authority. The hospitals refused to treat the applicant with a new drug, beta-interferon, due to its cost. The respondent authority claimed that the funding for beta-interferon will only be considered in randomised controlled trial (RCT). In November 1996, the applicant was informed that the authority would not consider the treatment in his case. A judicial review was sought.


Hold - The circular EL(95)97 is only a guidance in which the authority was required to take into account in performing its statutory functions. The authority was susceptible to challenge only on Wednesbury principles for failing to consider the circular or misconstructing or misapplying it, whether deliberately or negligently. The policy of considering beta-interferon only in RCT and is not in accordance with the circular. The policy is unlawful. Order of certiorari quashed the decision of the respondent authority. Order of mandamus requiring the authority to formulate and implement a policy which takes full and proper account of national policy as stated in EL(95)97.


Explanation of the legal terms:

1. Wednesbury principles: a reasoning or decision is Wednesbury unreasonable (or irrational) if it is so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it.


2. Order of certiorari: a type of writ (formal written order), meant for rare use, by which an appellate court decides to review a case at its discretion. The word certiorari comes from law latin and means 'to be more fully informed'. A writ of certiorari orders a lower court to deliver its record in a case so higher court may review it.


3. Order of mandamus: 'We command' is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a superior court, to any government subordinate court, corporation, or public authority, to do (or forbear from doing) some specific act (obliged under law).


###This celebrates my post No 23

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