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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions

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Cite as: [2001] EWCA Civ 1328

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Neutral Citation Number: [2001] EWCA Civ 1328
NO: C/2001/0379


Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2

Thursday, 26th July 2001

B e f o r e :


- v -


Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
180 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HD
Telephone No: 0171-421 4040 Fax No: 0171-831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)


MR ERIC ENONCHONG, the Applicant in Person


Crown Copyright ©

    Thursday, 26th July 2001

  1. LORD JUSTICE PILL: This is an application by Mr Eric Enonchong arising from the refusal of the Administrative Court to grant him permission to apply for judicial review of the decision of the Benefits Agency to withdraw income support. The application was considered on paper by Scott Baker J, and following an oral hearing on 4th December 2000 by Poole J, who refused the application.
  2. I refer to the background facts only briefly because the Court has only limited information about them. A notification appears to have been given to the applicant that he was no longer entitled to income support. He was notified on 13th February 1998, and that took effect as from 22nd of January 1998. There was a subsequent decision that for a period in 1998 the applicant was entitled to income support. An appeal was lodged by him from a decision in 1998, in October 1998, though one has to say that by inference from the documents.
  3. The decision complained of however was confirmed on 8th April 1999 by the Social Security Appeal Tribunal who refused leave to appeal from that decision. The commissioner refused leave to set aside their decision on 31st of July. Shortly thereafter the applicant applied for judicial review.
  4. The grounds of the application are stated as follows:
  5. "1. The court's decision is wrong [that is Poole J's decision] because it advanced no statement of reasons or 'judgment' in support of it. I have also received no reply from the court to my request for a copy of the judgment.
    2. As the court gave no judgment, its decision is therefore arbitrary and a breach of the rules of natural justice.
    3. As the court gave no judgment, its decision appears to violate my right to a fair trial (as provided in Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998).
    4. The court's decision is wrong because it contradicts the original written decision of the Commissioner."
  6. It is right to say that Poole J's decision was extremely brief. It merely stated
  7. "Like Scott Baker J, in the light of the Commissioner's letter of 21st July of this year I cannot see any evidence that anybody has acted unlawfully. In my judgment, there are no grounds on which the Administrative Court can assist the applicant."
  8. Scott Baker J said:
  9. "I cannot in the light of the Commissioner's letter of the 21st of July 2000 see any evidence that anyone has acted unlawfully. There are no grounds on which the Administrative court can help you."
  10. Mr Enonchong has appeared in person today and has addressed the Court as to those reasons and as to what he puts as his main complaint, namely that the agency have been in breach of the law. It has been put to him and I believe he understands that when the agency makes decisions, such as the one by which he is aggrieved in this case, Parliament has supplied an appeals procedure. First to SSAT and then with leave, if leave is granted, to the Commissioner and then again if permission is granted, to this Court. The last step the applicant did not take. That is not decision of the matter and I make no comment upon whether it might have succeeded, but that is the avenue of appeal provided by the law.
  11. There is sometimes a sense that when all else fails one can come by way of judicial review. It is a catch-all which a member of the public can make use of when all else fails. That is not the case. There are many situations in which members of the public can challenge decisions of public bodies by having their decisions reviewed judicially by the High Court and upon appeal to the Court of Appeal. But it does not follow, where alternative remedies are provided, as they are in this case, that because a member of the public disagrees with the outcome of the appeal procedure he can then make another attack on the decision by way of judicial review.
  12. I see no possibility in this case that this Court would quash any decision of the Commissioner or on the information before me of the agency. I am slightly puzzled by one of the sentences in the Commissioner's letter of 3rd April 2000. The application for permission to appeal was made to him. I have no difficulty with the first two sentences.
  13. "The claimant had been refused leave to appeal against the decision of 22.1.98. The tribunal of 8.4.99 could therefore do nothing about it and the decision it reached was correct in law.The claimant's complaint, if any, would be against the DSS. "
  14. I cannot understand that. Mr Enonchong has attempted to explain to the Court that his underlying complaint is against the DSS. If it was, I would have expected the appeal procedure to be the remedy against that. I do not know what the Commissioner, Mr Fellner, had in mind when he referred to a complaint against the DSS. Of course if the DSS simply refused to put a cheque in the post which they accepted they were legally obliged to pay, then there could be I put it no higher than that a claim against them.
  15. However there is nothing whatever in the papers before this Court to indicate any decision of the DSS which would merit the intervention of this Court. Interventions have been considered by the SSAT and the Commissioner. There was no success from the applicant's point of view. I see no prospect of this Court intervening.
  16. I only add that the grounds of appeal, which I have read, are directed against the judgment of Poole J. His judgment was brief, but that, in itself, is not a ground of appeal. He referred to the judgment on paper of Scott Baker J, who, in turn, referred to the letter of the Commissioner which is the matter about which, as far as any complaint is made, is the relevant one. Poole J made his decision clear. It cannot the subject of judicial review. It is not arguable that, because of the brevity of the High Court judge's decision, in the circumstances of this particular case judicial review should be granted. The judge said what was necessary to say and because I do not consider any appeal to be arguable, I would refuse permission.
  17. MR JUSTICE RIMER: I agree. I also refuse permission.
  18. (Application for permission refused)

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