R(ICO Satellites Ltd) v Office of Communications

15 Feb 2011

In a case concerning the ability of the Office of Communications (‘Ofcom’) to cancel an assignment of a particular radio frequency to a satellite operator, the High Court considered the wider question of whether a public body’s decision can be judicially reviewed where it was based upon its understanding of treaty obligations that have not been incorporated into English law. The case applied the obiter dicta of Lords Bingham and Brown in R (Corner House Research) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office [2009] 1 AC 756, which have previously been applied by the High Court in R (Badger Trust) v Welsh Ministers [2009] EWHC 768 (Admin)1, but were here given a more detailed consideration. The High Court ultimately concluded that Ofcom’s decision had been based on purely domestic provisions, laid down in its Guidance on Procedures for the Management of Satellite Filings (‘the Guidance’). Lloyd Jones J’s analysis is, however, indicative of what future litigants may expect in cases where such arguments are run.