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R (Quark Fishing Ltd) v Director of Fisheries of the Government of South Georgia

R (Quark Fishing Ltd) v Director of Fisheries of the Government of South Georgia (Supreme Court of the Falkland Islands)

Dermot Woolgar appeared for the successful Respondent in this commercial judicial review claim, which was heard before the Chief Justice of the Falkland Islands in the Supreme Court in Stanley, and in which judgment was handed down today. The Claimant fishing company challenged the refusal of the Respondent, the Director of Fisheries of the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, to grant a commercial fishing licence to its vessel Jacqueline to fish for Patagonian toothfish, a highly commercially valuable species of fish, in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands maritime zone in the 2012 season. The vessel had been awarded such a licence every year for the past 14 years, except once, when the decision then to refuse her a licence was successfully challenged both in the Falkland Islands and in the UK (see R (Quark Fishing Ltd v Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs [2002] EWCA Civ 1409).

The decision to refuse her a licence for the 2012 season was challenged, among others, on the ground that the Claimant had a legitimate expectation of consultation which was breached when changes were made to the licensing policy (including the exclusion of loyalty as a licensing criterion) without consultation, and on the ground that advice given to the Director of Fisheries by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had been misapplied. All the grounds of challenge failed.

The judgment contains a useful examination of the circumstances, in the field of licensing, in which an obligation of consultation arises at common law.


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