Chief Constable of the New Wales Police v Evans [1982] UKHL 10

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  • Evans was a police recruit who was doing well in all of his training
  • Rumours started circulating that he was married to a much older woman and that they lived a “hippie” lifestyle
  • He also kept four dogs in his council flat, when he was only supposed to have one
  • He was pressured into resigning from the force by the Constable, who had discretion to fire recruits if they thought they were unfit for office
  • Evans appealed, seeking a writ of mandamus


  • Was the Chief Constable’s decision made in breach of procedural fairness?
  • Could Evans attain a writ of mandamus?


  • The House of Lords described the conduct of the Chief Constable as “outrageous”, noting that the issues were never put to Evans and he never had a chance to reply.
  • The Chief Constable’s discretion was limited to where someone was unfit for office, and in this case the decision was unlawful.
  • However outrageous it was, however, mandamus was not the correct decision as it was not for the court to step into the shoes of the decision maker.
  • As a result, the remedy would be limited to damages only.


  • “Judicial review is concerned, not with the decision, but with the decision-making process. Unless that restriction on the power of the court is observed, the court will in my view, under the guise of preventing the abuse of power, be itself guilty of usurping power…. Judicial review, as the words imply, is not an appeal from a decision, but a review of the manner in which the decision was made.” (Lord Brightman)

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