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Report No. 58

Position in common law-Two balancing principles

Position at common law-dismissal at pleasure

8.3. At common law, a civil servant can be dismissed at pleasure, even if he was engaged for a definite period, which has not yet expired. The Crown's right to dispense with his service at will can be restricted only by statute. Even a term providing that the employment of a civil servant may be terminated only in a specified way would be a clog on the Crown's right to dismiss at pleasure, and therefore unenforceable. The principal on which this pre-emptory rule rests, was thus explained by Lord Herschell1 Such employment being for the good of the public, it is essential for the public good that it should be capable of being determined at the pleasure of the Crown, except in exceptional cases where it has been deemed to be more for the public good that some restrictions should be imposed on the power to dismiss its servants."

1. Duan v. Queen, (1896) 1 QB 116.

Structure and Jurisdiction of the Higher Judiciary Back

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