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UPMINSTER SERVICES WINS ITS CASE AGAINST THE MINISTER
M. of T. has no Power to Revoke Company's Licence r%.N11 of the most important cases liever brouglit by a coaching company against the Minister of TransPort was won in the Court of Appeal last week. The Court allowed an appeal by Upulinster Services, Ltd., against the discharging by the DMsional Court of a rule nisi granted. to the company in connection with an Order made by the Minister, of Transport calling upon the Metropolitan and Eastern Traffic Commissioners to revoke a licence and backing (respectively) issued to the concern.
It may be recalled that the concern was formed in 1932 to acquire the undertakings of two other companies which had operated on the AldgateUpminster route. A licence and backing were granted to Upminster Services, Ltd. Green Line Coaches, Ltd., and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Co. appealed against these grants, claiming that the .service was unnecessary, whilst the Upminster undertaking appealed against two conditions, one being that a minimum fare of Is. should be charged within the Metropolitan Area.
The Minister upheld the Green Line and L.M.S. appeals, and ordered the Metropolitan and Eastern Commissioners to revoke the licence and hacking so soon as adequate alternative travel facilities were provided. A reason given by the Minister was that the' service had been operated illegally. An appeal against this ruling was heard • in the Divisional Court, which had granted a rule nisi on the com piny's statement that the Minister or his representative failed to exercise his discretion judicially and took into consideration irrelevant matters, such as evidence of certain irregularities of the predecessors of the company. This rule was discharged on the ground that the Minister had acted well within his powers under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act.
The case was taken to the Court of Appeal, where the appeal was upheld and costs were allowed. The Master of the Rolls (Lord Hanworth) stated that, under Section 81, an applicant who was aggrieved by the grant or refusal of a licence, or with the conditions of it, might appeal to the Minister, as might any licence holder who was aggrieved by the revocation or suspension of the licence.
In the case of Upminster Services
Ltd., the Minister treated the licence as good, and it was to remain valid until an opportunity of revoking it should arise. The Minister claimed power to take such action under sub-section 2 of Section SI., but Lord Hanworth considered that the terms of that sub-section must be read as conferring that power when it would be appropriate to exercise it. The revocation could not be superadded to any Order made by the Minister.
Lord Russell of Killowen pointed out that the subject of the appeals by the L.M.S. and "Green Line" was whether the licence and backing should have been granted. The Upminster concern's appeals raised the question as to whether the licence and backing should be subject to certain conditions.
The latter appeals must be assumed to have failed and it appeared to Lord Russell that the former appeals must also be taken to have failed. The reason was that the Minister's Orders regarded the licence and backing as having been properly granted and as remaining in effect until some future and uncertain event occurred. Under the provisions of the Act there was no power to make such an Order.
Under Section 74 the Commissioners were authorized to tevoke a licence. The Minister could not consider himself entitled to dictate to the Commissioners how they were to exercise the discretionary power vested in them by way of original jurisdiction.
Lord Justice Romer agreed that the appeal should be allowed.