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Certain things just cannot be litigated. This is what one individual in England has found out after trying to have a decision to ban him from a number of pubs in Buckinghamshire reviewed by a court. After an incident outside a pub in March 2008, the Buckingham Pubwatch Scheme (a group of publicans in the Buckinghamshire area) decided to ban the individual from their pubs for three years. As there was no remedy under private law which the individual could seek, he applied for a judicial review of the decision to ban him for three years.
The main issue for the court to decide was whether it could actually review a decision made by the Buckingham Pubwatch Scheme (the scheme). The claimant argued that the scheme was actually a person that took decisions under the Licensing Act. It had functions which were of a public nature as it had a collective responsibility to ensure that the objectives of the Licensing Act 2003 were fulfilled. The scheme also applied to many pubs, not just one.  Lastly, the claimant argued that as there was no remedy under private law, he had to be able to bring the case under public law or otherwise he would be left with no judicial remedy.
The court’s decision was brief but clearly sets out the fact that the public houses are actually private premises and their owners are therefore entitled to decide whom to admit, provided the non-admission did not unlawfuly discriminate. The fact that a number of pubs, and not just one pub, had barred the claimant did not turn the decision into a public decision.  Because the scheme had no constitution, no finances, no membership or strict rules, and considering the fact that any decisions taken by the scheme were only binding to the extent the pubs treated them as binding, it could not be argued that the scheme was fulfilling a public function under section 6 of the Human Rights Act. The court finally stated that just because the claimant did not have a claim under private law, this did not mean that the decision could automatically be judicially reviewed. It stated that this kind of decision fell into the realm of life with which the courts did not interfere.