The Administrative Court has rejected a claim by Abbey Mine to quash a decision of the Coal Authority to grant a licence to Corus, the steel maker, to mine coal in the Margam area of South Wales. The Court had to consider how to apply the public law principle of fairness in the context of a comparative evaluation of competing bids. Among the arguments it rejected was that fairness dictated that the decision maker should disclose a number of documents to Abbey Mine. A competition law attack was also made on the Coal Authority. This also failed. Of particular interest was the Court’s rejection of an argument that, because of the royalty payments received from its licensing functions, the Coal Authority was an undertaking for the purposes of competition law.
Christopher Vajda QC and Josh Holmes, instructed by Nabarro, acted for the Coal Authority.
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