ESSAY "A decision so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could have come to it"
The story of the Wednesbury case
Because of the case, the phrase “Wednesbury unreasonableness” has become well-known legal shorthand for decisions and rules made by public bodies that are so unreasonable that no reasonable public body could have made them.
Nearly two-and-a-half thousand cases on the BAILII public database use the phrase “Wednesbury unreasonable”.
Indeed, the one thing that many people outside the West Midlands know about Wednesbury is that it associated with this extreme legal standard.
But in the judgment, the town’s corporation was found not to be acting unreasonably - at least in the legal sense.
And the case was not even decided on the basis of reasonableness, but on the basis of normal statutory construction.
So how did the little town of Wednesbury get such legal infamy?