Brynmor Adams wins for Ofsted in Court of Appeal

May 11, 2020

Brynmor Adams from Exchange Chambers, led by Sir James Eadie QC, has succeeded in the Court of Appeal in R. (on the application of the Governing Body of X) v Ofsted [2020] EWCA Civ 594 – an important case concerning the circumstances in which the Administrative Court can grant interim relief restraining publication in judicial review proceedings.

A school had brought proceedings in the Administrative Court in Manchester seeking an injunction to prevent Ofsted publishing a negative inspection report. The report identified safeguarding concerns and issues with pupil behaviour. Brynmor successfully represented Ofsted in the High Court where Mr Justice Julian Knowles refused the school’s application for an interim injunction.

The School appealed to the Court of Appeal. Following a hearing that took place shortly before the Coronavirus lockdown, the Court of Appeal decided that the judge was correct to refuse interim relief and dismissed the appeal. The Court of Appeal was also persuaded to take the unusual step of constituting itself as a Divisional Court in order to refuse permission to apply for judicial review on the basis that the School’s claim for judicial review was not arguable.

The Court of Appeal’s decision provides helpful guidance on the principles to be applied where a claimant in public law proceedings is seeking to restrain publication of a report by a public body. The Court of Appeal affirmed the  restrictive approach adopted by the High Court in a number of earlier cases.  Lord Justice Lindblom observed: “Unsurprisingly, and in my view correctly, the case law at first instance has been consistent in emphasizing the need for a suitably demanding approach to applications for an interim injunction to prevent the publication of an Ofsted report… The inherent purpose of this part of the statutory regime is to promote the public interest in parents, pupils and local communities knowing, without delay, the results of school inspections, and to uphold the rights of those entitled to receive that information. The considerations that would warrant impeding these functions would have to be very powerful.”

Brynmor is recognised by The Legal 500 as a leading junior in public law on the Northern Circuit and noted as being: “particularly experienced acting for local authorities”. He was recently re-appointed to the Attorney General’s Regional B Panel. He is regularly instructed in judicial review proceedings by a range of government departments and pubic bodies.