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Report No. 58

Reason for rule barring action for wrongful dismissal

8.5. It is sometimes stated that the reason for the rule which bars an action for wrongful dismissal by a servant of the Crown is that the relationship between the Crown and its servant "is probably one of contract at all, but a status, as it is in the case of the Armed Forces1. But even this reason is really one which can be subsumed under the general, and more fundamental, principle of public welfare or public interest .

Rowlatt J. has stated.2-

"The government cannot by contract hamper its freedom of action in matters which concern the welfare of the State. Thus, in the case of the employment of public servants, which is a less strong case than the present, it has been laid down that, except under an Act of Parliament no one acting on behalf of the Crown has authority to employ any person except upon the terms that he is dismissible at the Crown's pleasure; the reason being that it is in the interest of the community that the Minister "for the time being advising the Crown should be able to dispense with the services of its employees if they think it desirable."

3. Anson Ism of Contract, (1969), citing Shenton v. Smith, 1895 AC 229; Redwell v. Thomas, 1944 KB 596; Inland Revenue Commissioner v. Hambrook, (1956) 2 QB 641.

4. Rederiaktiebolaget Amphitrite v. King, (1921) 3 KB 500 (504).

Structure and Jurisdiction of the Higher Judiciary Back

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