Barnard v National Dock Labour Board [1953] 2 QB 18

employees, transferee

Barnard v National Dock Labour Board [1953] 2 QB 18 is an Administrative Law case concerning delegation of powers and ultra vires decision-making.


The claimants were 11 lightermen and the defendants were their employers alongside the National Dock Labour Board. Local port manager, to whom the board delegated some of its powers, namely, disciplinary measures, suspended the plaintiffs under the scheme of Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act 1946 . Consequently, the plaintiffs sought to challenge their suspension in the tribunal. However, their case was dismissed. It was after the dismissal they found out that the port manager was the one to suspend them instead of the local board. 


In Barnard v National Dock Labour Board, could the Board delegate its powers to the local port manager?

Was the manager’s decision ultra-vires?


The Court of Appeal found for the plaintiffs. The Court held that firstly, the Board had no right to delegate its disciplinary duties to local managers. Secondly, due to that fact the suspension by the manager was nullity and previous case dismissal by the tribunal had no effect on it. Lastly, since in the case order of certiorari would not be of much help to claimants, the court issued a declaration that their suspension was wrongful. 

Applied: Cooper v Wilson

Keywords: judicial review, ultra vires, unfair suspension, Order of Certiorari, Tribunal

References: [1953] 2 Q.B. 18, [1953] 2 W.L.R. 995, [1953] 1 All E.R. 1113, [1953] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 371, [1953] 3 WLUK 145, (1953) 97 S.J. 331, [1953] C.L.Y. 879

See our Constitutional and Administrative Law flashcards and other cases to learn more. 

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