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Court of Appeal rules that Secretary of State appeal decisions lawful even where prior recovery direction unlawful

DATE: 20 Nov 2017

The Court of Appeal, upholding the High Court, has given judgment in conjoined appeals by a range of Gypsies and Travellers against Secretary of State decisions dismissing their appeals and refusing planning permission in four local planning authority areas. 

The Judgment is of particular note for the conclusion that the Secretary of State’s decisions are lawful despite the fact that, in three of the cases and applying Moore & Coates v Secretary of State [2015] JPL 762, the Secretary of State’s direction recovering the appeals for his own determination was unlawful.  The Court rejected the appellants’ proposition (supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission) that this unlawfulness rendered the subsequent decision a nullity.  The references to the statutory framework, the case-law and concepts such as “nullity” and the “second actor” are likely to be of interest to planning law practitioners and public law practitioners alike. 

Rupert Warren QC and Stephen Whale successfully represented the Secretary of State.

For a copy of the Judgment, click here.