R (Wexford County Council) v Local Government Board for Ireland

Judgment Date25 February 1901
Date25 February 1901
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
The Queen (Wexford County Council)
The Local Government Board for Ireland (Webster’s Case) (1).
Same (Leary’s Case) (1).












Local Government—Existing officer—Increase of remuneration—Increase of duties—County surveyor—Assistant surveyor—Sealed order of Local Government Board—Certiorari—Judicial act—Jurisdiction of Local Government Board—Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, sect. 115, sub-sect. 18.

Section 115, sub-section 18, of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, enacts that if any existing officer transferred to the County Council has his duties increased or diminished by reason of the Act, he shall be bound to perform those duties, and shall receive such increase or diminution of remuneration in proportion to the increase or diminution of his duties as the Local Government Board may determine. It appeared from the statements of the Local Government Board that in the case of two existing officers—a county surveyor and an assistant surveyor—the Board, in purporting to determine what their increase of remuneration was to be under this section, recast their old salaries, giving not merely increase of remuneration in respect of the increased duties, but fixing a scale of remuneration for all the officers’ duties, old as well as new:—

Held, that the determination of the Local Government Board was so afar a judicial act, that it was not exempt from certiorari, and that, as their decision was based on a wrong principle, a writ of certiorari should issue for the purpose of quashing it.

[The following cases were cited:—In re The Local Government Board: Ex parte Byrne and James (1); Macbeth v. Ashley (2); The Queen (Dillon) v. The Local Government Board (3); The Queen (Dixon) v. The Local Government Board (4); The Queen (M'Evoy) v. The Corporation of Dublin (5); In re The Local Government Board: Ex parte Kingstown Commissioners (6); The Queen (Newell) v. Local Board of Health of Hastings (7); Cooper v. The Wandsworth Board of Works (8); The Queen v. Cheshire Lines Committee (9); Capel v. Child (10); The Attorney-General v. Hooper (11); The Queen (Cleeland) v. The Pharmaceutical Society (12); Newry and Enniskillen Railway Company v. Ulster Railway Company (13); Livingstone v. Rawyards Coal Company (14); The Queen (Lord Powerscourt) v. County Court Judge of Tyrone (15); The Queen (Blakeney) v. Justices of Roscommon (16); Ryan v. Goddard (17).]

Cur. adv. vult.

Appeals from two orders of the Queen’s Bench Division made 1st December, 1900, allowing the cause shown against conditional orders for writs of certiorari obtained on 15th August, 1900, by the County Council of Wexford for the purpose of quashing, respectively, an order of the Local Government Board of Ireland of 26th June, 1900, whereby they ordered and determined that Henry Webster, the county surveyor of the county Wexford, should as from the 1st April, 1899, receive an increase of remuneration

amounting to £200 per annum, and an order of the Local Government Board of 5th July, 1900, whereby they ordered and determined that Patrick Leary, assistant surveyor in the county of Wexford, should as from 1st April, 1899, receive an increase of remuneration amounting to £70 per annum.

Webster was appointed county surveyor of the county Wexford in 1892 at a salary of £500 per annum, together with £50 per annum for an office and clerk, which salary was increased in 1894 to £600 per annum, with a similar allowance for an office and clerk. On the coming into operation of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, he was an “existing officer” “transferred to the Council of the county” of Wexford within the meaning of section 115 of that Act.

On 29th August, 1899, the Local Government Board sent a circular letter to the secretary of each County Council in Ireland in the following terms:—

Sir,—The Local Government Board for Ireland desire to draw the attention of the County Council to the terms of section 115, sub-section 18, of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, which provide that existing officers transferred under the section shall receive such increase or diminution of remuneration in proportion to the increase or diminution of their duties as the Local Government Board may determine, and that the County Council, with the approval of the Board, may make a special agreement with any of their officers in the matter.

To enable them to discharge the duties thus imposed upon them, the Board will be glad to receive within three months from the present date a statement showing the salaries of the secretary, county surveyors, assistant surveyors, and other officers of the Council who are affected by the provisions of the subsection referred to and who have not made a special agreement with the Council on the subject, together with a statement as to the increase or diminution of work to be taken into account in each case.

Any observations which the Council may see fit to make respecting the claims of their officers under the enactment in question will receive full consideration on the part of the Board.

I am, &c.

In accordance with the request contained in this letter, and in response to an application by Webster for an increase of salary, the Finance Committee of the County Council of the County Wexford passed a resolution on 22nd November, 1899, confirming Webster's salary of £600 and the allowance aforesaid, and this resolution having been duly confirmed at a meeting of the Council on 11th December, 1899, was forwarded to the Local Government Board. The resolution of the Finance Committee was in the words following:—“We recommend that Mr. Webster's salary, £600 a-year, be continued, and that he be allowed £50 a-year for a clerk and office. We also recommend that the salaries of the deputy surveyors remain as they are.” Webster was in attendance at the meeting of the Finance Committee, and submitted for their consideration, and they considered, a list made out by him of additional and new duties imposed upon him under the Local Government Act.

Webster had also been in correspondence with the Local Government Board, and had sent them a copy of the list of his additional and new duties which he had submitted to the Finance Committee. The Local Government Board on 23rd November, 1899, sent him a form which they required him to fill up giving particulars as to his former salary and emoluments, his proposed future salary and emoluments, stating whether he agreed to accept the salary proposed, and, if not, what amount he claimed, and also asking for a brief statement of his additional duties. Having received this form, Webster waited until the resolution of the County Council confirming the Finance Committee's resolution was passed, and then having filled in the particulars required on 12th December, 1899, sent the form to the Local Government Board, stating that he declined to concur in the Council's decision, and would appeal to the Local Government Board to settle the question. In his letter he also furnished the Board with information and particulars which he considered of importance in relation to his claim for increased remuneration, detailing the number of miles of roads under his charge, the number of bridges, piers, and harbours, and the trouble caused by the large seaboard of the county, and the charge of roads running down to strands which were often injured by storms, &c.

The general body of county surveyors over Ireland had also sent in to the Board a memorandum setting out the increase of duties devolving upon them as a body under the Local Government Act.

No further communication took place between the Board and the County Council, nor between the Board and the Finance Committee relative to Webster's salary, until the 7th February, 1900, when the Board sent the County Council the following letter:—

Sir,—I am directed by the Local Government Board for Ireland to inform you that they have had under consideration the claims for increased remuneration for increased duties made to them under section 115 (18) of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, by the county surveyors who have failed to come to an agreement with the County Councils on the matter.

The Board have carefully considered all representations which have been received by them from the County Councils and their officers in response to their circular of the 29th of August upon this subject, and they have also had before them a memorandum prepared by the county surveyors showing the nature of the increased duties devolving upon them under the Act.

The Board observe that the surveyors contend that their travelling expenses are largely increased, owing to their having to attend the meetings and adjourned meetings of the County and District Councils, and to make quarterly inspections for contractors' payments.

They also represent that their additional work in connection with their new duties, including the preparation of plans and specifications and quarterly reports for the District Councils, will practically occupy their entire time, so that their private practice must necessarily fall off, and will no longer be the same source of income to them which it has been in the past.

The Board, in considering the claims of the surveyors, have come to the conclusion that a fixed addition of salary, uniform in each class, should be given to cover the additional office work and other new duties which will be common to all county surveyors, and that the mileage of roads in each county should be a factor in determining the amount of the increased salary which the surveyors would be entitled to in order to recoup them for the additional travelling expenses.

The salaries of all surveyors have accordingly been fixed upon this principle, which has been subject to a very slight variation to meet...

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