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Public-and-human-rights News

Tom Wilding represented Mr Ryan Eve against the Bar Standards Board

23rd July 2021

Tom Wilding represented Mr Ryan Eve against the Bar Standards Board in an appeal against a decision not to grant Mr Eve a wisher for the vocational part of his training to be a barrister.

Mr Eve challenged the BSB on the basis that there was no reasoning in any of the decisions made by the BSB at either first instance or on review leaving him none the wiser as to why his application had not been successful.

In handing down judgment Mr Justice Griffiths made some important observations about the duty for decision makers in quasi judicial matters, in particular noting:

72. There is also the important point that giving reasons acts as a discipline for the decision maker. Clear reasons, however succinct, not only demonstrate that the decision maker has reached a reasoned rather than an arbitrary or gut-feel decision, but assist the decision maker in doing so. They are, therefore, a component of good decision-making as well as showing due respect for the rights of those affected by the decision. They are also the surest basis for successfully resisting any appeal or other challenge.

75. Clear and adequate reasoning is a matter of content, not length. There is a difference between brevity and lack of substance. A long document can contain no substance. Lengthy quotation and identifying materials without discussing them are often the culprits here. On the other hand, a single sentence, or two, may contain substance enough. The clearer the thinking, the easier it is to be precise and, therefore, brief. The more muddled the thinking, the less likely it is that multiplying words will produce a cogent, transparent or persuasive analysis. 

76. The level of detail required will depend on the circumstances of the case. In the case of a person who had no good reason for not taking the conventional route through the Vocational Stage, for example, it might be that reasons for refusing to grant an exemption could be shorter than those required by Mr Eve's case. However, reasons must be given in every case.

The High Court quashed the decisions of the BSB and have remitted the matter to them to come to a fresh decision.
Link to judgment:
Tom was instructed on a direct access basis.

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