R v East Sussex ex parte. Tandy Cited as: [1998] AC 714, [1998] 2 All ER 769, [1998] 2 WLR 884, [1998] 2 FCR 221

Application for judicial review of decision to reduce number of hours of home tuition for financial reasons; local authority obligations under Education Act 1993 ; retrogressive measure ; issue of resource allocations of local authority.

Date of the Ruling: 
May 20 1998
House of Lords, UK
Type of Forum: 

According to Section 298 each local education authority (‘LEA') was required to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education for those children of compulsory school age who, by reason of, amongst other things, illness, might not otherwise receive it. According to Section 298, “‘suitable education,' in relation to a child... means efficient education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have....” In October 1996 the education authority (‘EA') advised parents of the appellant, a sick child, that, for financial reasons, the maximum number of hours per week of home tuition provided to her would be reduced. The appellant applied for judicial review of that decision, claiming, amongst other things, that in reaching its decision to cut the number of hours, the local authority took into account an irrelevant consideration.  The House of Lords held that on a true construction of Section 298, the question of what was ‘suitable education' was to be determined purely with reference to educational considerations and that there was nothing in Section 298 to indicate that the resources available were relevant to that determination. Accordingly, there was no reason to treat the resources of a LEA as a relevant factor in determining what constituted ‘suitable education' for the purposes of Section 298. However, if there was more that one way of providing ‘suitable education,' the EA would be entitled to have regard to its resources in choosing between different ways of making such provision. The Court restored the order of the High Court quashing the EA's decision to reduce the number of hours of home tuition provided.

Keywords: R v East Sussex ex parte. Tandy Cited as: [1998] AC 714, [1998] 2 All ER 769, [1998] 2 WLR 884, [1998] 2 FCR 221, Education, Right

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

Tandy marked a judicial distancing from, the narrow approach to the  “unreasonableness/irrationality ground” employed in evaluating government action, which  had previously been dominant in resource allocation decisions of the British Courts.  A similar distancing has been demonstrated by courts in other subsequent cases (i.e., R v North & East Devon HA, ex parte Coughlan [1999] Lloyds Rep Med 306 (CA) ; R v North West Lancashire HA, ex parte A, D & G [1999] Lloyds Rep Med 399 (CA) [get links] (although these cases were decided on different grounds to Tandy). (Source: Syrett below).

Groups involved in the case: 

Michael Beloff QC Blackstone Chambers Blackstone House Temple London EC4Y 9BW Tel: 020 7583 1770 Email: clerks@blackstonechambers.com Tim Kerr QC, 11 King’s Bench Walk Chambers, 11 King’s Bench Walk, Temple, London, EC4Y 7EQ Tel: 020 7632 8500 Andrew Sharland 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, Gray's Inn, London WC1R 5AH DX 1029 LDE t 020 7404 5252 f 020 7242 7803 clerks@4-5.co.uk For the Education authority: Nigel Pleming QC 39 Essex Street London WC2R 3AT Tel: 020 7832 1111 Rabinder Singh QC Matrix Chambers Griffin Building, Gray’s Inn London WC1R 5LN United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)20 7404 3447 Fax: +44 (0)20 7404 3448 Email: matrix@matrixlaw.co.uk

Significance of the Case: 

This case signaled a departure from the deferential approach to resource allocation decisions by the state adopted by the House of Lords in previous cases addressing the failure of health and local authorities to meet the needs of citizens in the context of reduced allocation of resources to those authorities from central government (e.g., R v Cambridge Health Authority ex parte B 1995 1 WLR:906; R. v Gloucestershire County Council ex parte Barry [1997] 2 All ER 1) [get links].