Court of Appeal restricts access to injunction in aid of a statutory appeal

CC&C Ltd v HM Commissioners of Revenue and Customs [2014] EWCA Civ 1653

Where there is a statutory appeal regime which does not make provision for the relevant statutory tribunal to suspend or stay the effect of the administrative decision under appeal, an injunction will be available on judicial review only in exceptional circumstances. The High Court will not generally grant an injunction where the statutory regime does not make provision for it.

The Court of Appeal (Arden Lewison and Underhill LJJ) has delivered judgment on the expedited appeal in CC&C Ltd v HM Revenue and Customs. Acting under statutory powers in the Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations 1999, HMRC had withdrawn approval of the claimant company as a registered owner of duty-suspended goods, taking the view that it was not a fit and proper person to be approved. The relevant appeal regime permitted the First-tier Tribunal on appeal to require reconsideration of the decision if it was one to which HMRC could not reasonably have come, but it did not make any provision for interim relief. The claimant appealed to the First-tier Tribunal and also applied to the Administrative Court for permission to apply for judicial review and for an interim injunction requiring HMRC to re-register it.

Upholding for other reasons refusal by the court below to grant an injunction, the Court of Appeal held that where, as in the present case, the statutory appeal regime did not permit the First-tier Tribunal to suspend operation of the relevant decision, the High Court would not intervene with an injunction unless the decision was arguably unlawful on some ground other than mere unreasonableness. Declining to give an exhaustive list of what factors other than mere unreasonableness might be relevant, the court said that the terms “abuse of power” and “impropriety” adequately indicated the relevant territory. It would be necessary to show that the decision was not simply unreasonable but that it was unlawful on one of those fundamental bases.

On the material before the court no such arguable case of impropriety was made out, and the claimant was limited to its remedy under the statutory regime.

Timothy Brennan QC and Marika Lemos appeared for HMRC.

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