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Report No. 69

XII. Judicial and Quasi-Judicial

6.25. Discussion in Report of Committee on Ministers' Powers.-

The Donoughmore Committee (Committee on Ministers Powers) in England formulated the following distinctions between judicial and administrative powers:1

(a) A true judicial decision presupposes an existing dispute between two or more parties, and then involves four requisites-

(1) the presentation (not necessarily orally) of their cases by the parties;

(2) the ascertainment of any disputed facts by evidence adduced by the parties, often with the assistance of argument on that evidence;

(3) the submission of argument on any disputed question of law;

(4) a decision which disposes of the whole matter by a finding upon disputed facts and "an application of the law of the land to the fact so found, including where required a ruling upon any disputed question of law."

(b) An administrative decision is one in the making of which the authority is not required to employ any of the processes familiar in courts of law (hearing evidence and arguments, etc.) and where the grounds upon which he acts are left entirely to his discretion.

1. Committee on Ministers' Powers, Report (1932), (Cmd. 4060), pp. 73 and 81.

6.26. The Committee also sought to define a "quasi-judicial" decision by reference to its definition of a judicial decision: "A quasi-judicial decision equally pre-supposes an existing dispute between two or more parties and involves (1) and (2), but does not necessarily involve (3) and never involves (4). The place of (4) is, in fact, taken by administrative action, the character of which is determined by the minister's free choice."

The analysis of "judicial" and "quasi-judicial" functions as made by the Donoughmore Committee1 came to be recorded judicially in the case of Cooper v. Wilson, (1937) 2 All ER 726 (740) (CA), in the judgment of Scott L.J., who had taken a leading part in the Donoughmore Committee. He described the Watch Committee in the case before him as obliged to make a "quasi-judicial approach" which meant that they were "exercising nearly judicial functions", though "not tied to ordinary judicial procedure."

1. Committee on Ministers' Powers, Report (see supra).

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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