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Annual Report of the General Board on the establishment of personal Professorships and Readerships: Notice

20 October 1997

In their Notice of 21 July 1997 (Reporter, 1996-97, p. 988) the Council informed the University that the Vice-Chancellor had received a report from the Commissary, Lord Oliver of Aylmerton, on representations made by Dr G. R. Evans in respect of promotions to personal Professorships and Readerships. Dr Evans had alleged that the procedures followed in the 1997 promotions exercise were flawed and had involved contraventions of Statutes and Ordinances. For the information of the University the Council now publish below Lord Oliver's report, in which he examines Dr Evans's representations and the background to them, and concludes that he is not persuaded that there has been any contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances.

 The Council also informed the University that Dr Evans had applied to the High Court for judicial review of the procedures followed in the 1997 promotions exercise. This application was heard by Mr Justice Sedley on 13-14 August 1997; his judgement is reproduced below. While rejecting some of Dr Evans's representations, the Judge has granted her leave to proceed to judicial review on two grounds. He has also ruled that all further proceedings should be stayed, and that an application to the Court to lift the stay may be made if 'good cause' can be shown, for example if the conduct of the 1998 round of promotions fails to cure 'arguable deficiencies' in the 1997 procedures.

 The Council have asked the General Board for their views on the conduct of the 1998 round of promotions, and a further Notice will be published in due course.



Clause 5 of Statute K of the Statutes of the University of Cambridge provides, so far as presently material, that 'If, within thirty days after the doing of any act, including an election, by any person or body having power to act under the Statutes, it is represented in writing to the Vice-Chancellor that there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances in the doing of such act, he shall inquire into the matter and shall declare either that there has been no such contravention, or that the said act is of no effect, or, if he is of the opinion that the irregularity has not affected the result, that the validity of such act is not affected by such contravention'. There follow provisions not at present material to govern the situation which may arise if the Vice-Chancellor fails to give a decision within a limited time or if the complainant is dissatisfied with a decision and wishes to mount an appeal to the Chancellor.

 Clause 7(b) of Statute D empowers the Vice-Chancellor to appoint a member of the Regent House (the governing body of the University) as his or her deputy in any matter or to perform any duty assigned by Statute or Ordinance to the Vice-Chancellor.

 As the Commissary of the University I am ex officio a member of the Regent House and have, by letters dated 23 April and 6 May 1997, been requested by the Vice-Chancellor to act as his deputy in relation to the written representation of Dr G. R. Evans referred to below regarding a proposal made for the establishment of an ad hominem Readership for her.

 The Statute contains no provisions regulating the manner in which the Vice-Chancellor is to 'inquire into the matter' nor is there any indication at all of the course which such inquiry is envisaged as taking. The issue in the first instance is the very narrow one of whether or not there has been a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances of the University, and in the instant case there is no relevant dispute of fact which requires to be resolved, at any rate at the first stage of the inquiry. The substance of the representations which Dr Evans has made is that a proposal by the Faculty Board of History that she be considered as a candidate for promotion to a personal Readership was placed before and considered by the relevant bodies without taking into account certain documentary material which Dr Evans wished to be before them, an omission which she attributes to the actions of the Secretary General, and which she alleges to have been ultra vires and in contravention of the Statutes. It is accepted that the material which Dr Evans insists should have been considered was not considered by any of the relevant bodies, and all that I have to inquire into and determine in the first instance is whether the failure to consider this material contravened any, and if so which, of the Statutes or Ordinances. Dr Evans has supplemented the original representations made by her by numerous further representations and arguments contained variously in letters addressed to me or to the University Registrary and in a tape and transcript of an address by her at a meeting of the University Council. I have considered all this material in the course of my inquiry, although some of it is not strictly relevant to Dr Evans's original written representation. I have also received from the University extracts from the relevant Statutes, a list of the relevant dates, supported by minutes and correspondence referred to later in this Advice, an historical résumé of the evolution of the University's processes for the creation of personal Professorships and Readerships, and a Response from the University to the various arguments advanced by Dr Evans, together with her comments thereon. I have not felt the need for any further material to enable me to conduct this inquiry, although Dr Evans has suggested that my inquiry should be broadened to embrace an investigation of the internal processes of the various bodies involved in the promotions process, and that there should be a hearing at which she can advance her arguments orally and examine and cross-examine witnesses. I have not felt that this would be either necessary or appropriate, and it would certainly be of no help to me in determining the only questions which, at this stage, I am called upon to consider. My instructions to act as the Vice-Chancellor's deputy were delivered by Messrs Taylor Vinters, the solicitors to the University, who have supplied me with all the documents before me, and upon whose office facilities I have relied, in an administrative capacity only, in the physical production of this Advice, since I have no secretarial facilities of my own. Since the representation of Dr Evans complains of a contravention of the Statutes and Ordinances of the University and since there are, so far as I have been made aware, no Statutes or Ordinances which directly and in terms govern the procedures for election or appointment to University teaching posts - and, in particular, personal Readerships or Professorships - it will be necessary, at the outset, to say something of the structure provided for the exercise of the powers and for the governance of the University and the organs through which the powers of the University are to be exercised.

Powers and organs of the University

The powers of the University are set out in very general terms in Chapter II of Statute A, Clause 1 of which empowers the University to enact Ordinances and to issue Orders 'for the encouragement of learning, the maintenance of good order and discipline, and the management of its affairs'. Powers expressly conferred by the Statute include, as one would expect, power to employ persons in the service of the University and to fix the terms of their service 'subject to the provisions of the Statutes regarding University officers'. I assume that such Statutes, so far as they exist, are not relevant to this inquiry, since they have not been included with my instructions.

 Clause 5 of Chapter II confers power to delegate any of the University's powers save those of enacting Ordinances and issuing Orders referred to in Clause 1.

 The governing body of the University is the Regent House which, under Chapter III of the same Statute, exercises the powers of the University under Clause 1 of Chapter II, save in so far as those powers have been assigned by Statute to any other authority. Unless provided otherwise, acts of the University are to be performed by Grace of the Regent House, but it is expressly provided that the Regent House may delegate to the Council or any other body authority to act on its behalf.

 The effective governing body of the University, however, is the Council, the powers and duties of which are set out in Chapter IV of the Statute. It is to be the principal executive and policy-making body of the University, with general responsibilities for its administration and the management of its resources. It is to make an annual report to the Regent House and to submit a Grace for the approval of the report. It is to oversee all the institutions of the University which are placed under its supervision. The Chairman of the Council is the Vice-Chancellor, who has power to appoint a deputy.

 Although the Council has the general responsibility for policy-making under the foregoing provisions, the responsibility for the academic and educational policy of the University is vested by Statute C, Chapter I, in a different body, the General Board of the Faculties, which is charged with the duty of overseeing the teaching and research work of the Schools, Faculties, Departments, and other institutions of the University. It is accountable to the Council for its management of educational affairs and is to make an annual report to the Council. It has power to issue Ordinances and Orders relating to the University institutions under its supervision, relating to examinations and degrees, etc., and relating to any other matter which may be delegated to it by Grace of the Regent House. The Chairman of the General Board is, again, the Vice-Chancellor, with power to appoint a deputy.

 Statute K contains some provisions, important in the present context, relating to the proceedings of the various bodies constituted by the Statutes. Clause 9 of this Statute provides:

The following provisions shall apply to every body constituted in the University by Statute or Ordinance except in so far as it may be otherwise expressly provided by Statute:…(b) The body may appoint committees for any such general or special business as in the opinion of the body may be better regulated or managed by means of a committee and may delegate to any committee so appointed, with or without restrictions or conditions, the exercise of any functions proper to the body, provided that

(i) such delegation shall not relieve the delegating body of responsibility for the matter delegated;
(ii) members of the delegating body shall have the right of access to all papers considered by such committees;
(iii) subject to any contrary provision of Statutes or Ordinances, such delegation shall not extend
(1) to any election or appointment to a University office…or
(4) to any other matter specified by Ordinance….

Finally, it is necessary to refer to the provisions of Chapter VIII of Statute D, whereby there is created the important office of the Secretary General of the Faculties. His duties are prescribed by Clause 4 of this chapter, which provides that he is placed under the direction of the Council, with the following duties:

(a) to act as the Council's principal adviser on academic and educational policy;
(b) to act as Secretary to the General Board;
(c) to perform such other duties as may be prescribed by Statute or Ordinance.

Clause 6 provides that he shall not be a member of the Council or of the General Board.

 So much for the statutory provisions, and it will be seen that there are no provisions specifically regulating the procedures for appointment to University offices, the Council and the General Board being, as one would rather expect, left to evolve and regulate their own procedures within the general framework of the powers and duties conferred upon them by the Statutes and any relevant Ordinances or Orders promulgated by the Regent House or the Council from time to time.

Historical résumé of the establishment of personal Professorships and Readerships

Statute D, XIV, 3 provides that no Professorship shall be established in the University except by Grace of the Regent House after publication of a report by the General Board. The provision relating to Readerships is in a rather different form and merely enacts that the University may establish and maintain such Readerships as it may from time to time determine (Statute D, XVI, 1). The Ordinances contain special provisions relating to the appointment to Readerships, but, as regards Readerships created for tenure by a particular person - I gather that the adjective 'personal' has now been substituted for the more traditional expression 'ad hominem' and I use the two expressions indifferently - Regulation 4 of the Special Regulations for the University office of Reader contained in the Ordinances provides that when the creation of a personal Readership is contemplated, the proposal is to be submitted to the University by the General Board in the form of a Grace authorizing the Board to appoint the person.

 The procedure for proposing and appointing personal Professorships and Readerships was introduced in 1966 and was operated in more or less the same form until the present year, although now amended or about to be amended for appointments for the year 1998. The procedure adopted over the past thirty years has followed the same pattern, i.e. first, a consideration within Faculty Boards of the case for promotion of eligible officers, followed by a decision by the Faculty Board as to which proposals it wishes to forward to the General Board by a closing date prescribed by the General Board. The second step is the preparation by the Faculty Board of the proposals with such supporting documents as are prescribed and with the names of referees whom the General Board might wish to consult. The third stage is a consideration of the proposals received by the General Board from the Faculty Boards, such consideration being delegated to its Personal Professorships and Readerships Committee (hereafter referred to as the Board's 'Promotions Committee'), which requests the Secretary General to call for written references from such of the named referees as it requires.

 The Promotions Committee then meets to consider its recommendations and forwards a list of recommended candidates to the General Board, which then takes the advice of its Needs Committee as to what, if any, financial restraints there may be on the proposals. If the General Board approves the proposals recommended by the Promotions Committee it submits an Annual Report containing the approved proposals to the Council, whose approval is required for its publication. The Report then falls to be considered by the Regent House after which a Grace is submitted for the approval of the recommendations of the Report.

 For at least the past eight years, the procedures established by the General Board have specified the material to be submitted with proposals by Faculty Boards, and material either outwith that specified or submitted after the closing date has not been included in the papers circulated for the Committee's consideration.

The facts

On 21 March 1996, in accordance with the accustomed procedure outlined above, the Secretary General Dr D. A. Livesey, acting as Secretary to the General Board, sent to the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Faculty Boards a circular letter asking the recipients, by 31 July 1996, to submit proposals for the establishment of personal Readerships and Professorships from 1 October 1997. This set out the criteria by which the General Board would judge proposals made to it, and requested the Faculty Boards to notify all eligible University officers on their establishment of the process by which proposals would be considered at Faculty Board level. The circular proceeded to set out guidelines for the preparation and presentation of proposals, which were described as 'extremely important' and to which as close an adherence as possible was required. These were attached to the circular and headed 'Procedure for the submission of proposals for the establishment of personal Professorships and Readerships with effect from 1 October 1997'.

 Under the heading 'Documentation' there were set out precise requirements for the format and content of proposals and accompanying documents. These consisted of a cover sheet, a curriculum vitae of not more than two pages, an up-to-date list of publications with the best six publications listed on a separate sheet, and a supporting statement from the Head of the applicant's Department, with, in the case of Readership proposals, an assessment of the teaching and general contribution of the person proposed. There followed a reference to the General Board's criteria for effective teaching. The circular letter went on to call for names of referees to be provided by the Faculty Boards, but without any specification of the number of referees required. What was said, under the heading 'Referees', was as follows:

The names of referees which Faculty Boards provide are extremely important to the success of a proposal. In the selection of referees to be forwarded to the General Board, Faculty Boards should ensure, where possible, that those named are able to comment with authority on the originality of the research, the nature of the contribution to knowledge, and the quality of the publications and scholarly communications of those for whom a proposal is being made. In addition to these more specific comments, it would be helpful if one or two of the referees selected were also well placed to comment upon an individual's more general reputation in the academic world.

This circular letter did not simply originate in the mind of the Secretary General. It followed, as I understand it, the familiar established pattern and its terms had been discussed in the previous month by the General Board's Promotions Committee, which met on 20 February 1996. Prior to that meeting the members of the Committee had been supplied with, inter alia, a Consultative Questionnaire, a copy of the Notice on promotion procedures published in the Reporter at the end of the previous year, and a copy of the annual circular letter sent to Faculties and Departments inviting proposals for promotion. The Committee was asked for comments once the result of the questionnaire had been processed. Also for consideration was the draft of the annual circular for 1997, and drafts of letters to referees. I have not seen the minutes of the meeting of 20 February, but I infer that the drafts were approved with some amendments.

 On 13 March 1996 the draft of the circular letter to Faculty Boards and the procedure and timetable for promotions were considered at a meeting of the General Board itself, when the circular letter was approved and it was resolved that, in view of the timetable required for changes in procedure then under consideration, the consideration of proposals for 1 October 1997 be carried out in accordance with the existing procedures.

 At subsequent meetings in May and June 1996 the Board considered and agreed revised procedures for the year 1998.

 At a meeting of the Board held on 17 July 1996 it was agreed that the current procedures should be continued for the year 1997 but should be modified by augmenting the membership of the Board's Promotions Committee by the addition of two external members. It was also agreed that c.v.s and full publications lists should be circulated to candidates' referees.

 On 30 July 1996, the day before the closing date referred to in the Secretary General's letter of 21 March, proposals were received from the Faculty Board of History. These included a proposal of the name of Dr Evans for consideration for a Readership. On 1 August, however, one day after the closing date, Professor Collinson, the Chairman of the Committee of Professors of the History Faculty, sent to the Secretary General a letter from the Regius Professor of Divinity relating to Dr Evans with a request that it be added to Dr Evans's application papers. Although this letter was received out of time and may strictly have fallen outside the guidelines (although Dr Evans's work, as I understand it, is within the ambit of the Faculty of Divinity as well as that of the Faculty of History), nothing in fact turns on it. It was originally returned to the writer, but after receipt from him of a further letter explaining why he thought it proper to be included with Dr Evans's application papers, it was in fact so included and formed part of the material considered by the Promotions Committee in making its recommendations to the Board. This was, I understand, in accordance with normal practice in the case of a candidate working in interdisciplinary fields, and the same policy was adopted in the case of one other candidate in a similar position. The matter did not, however, rest there. In addition to the documentation which had been requested in the circular letter sent to all prospective candidates for promotion, Dr Evans sent - or, to be strictly accurate, there were sent by the Faculty Board of History, in support of her application (whether or not at her instigation I do not know and it is, in any event, immaterial) - a number of further documents which fell outside the circulated guidelines and which included, inter alia, particulars of lectures in the UK and abroad which she had been invited to give, particulars of books or articles accepted for publication though not yet published, and particulars of works commissioned but not yet undertaken. On 13 September 1996, these were returned to her under cover of a letter from the Secretary General in which he again reminded her of the documentation required in the original circular. Nevertheless, the Faculty of History sent to him, for inclusion in Dr Evans's application, a number of favourable book reviews of work which she had recently had published. On 24 October, these were returned to her under cover of a letter in which the Secretary General again reminded her of the documentation referred to in the March circular and which concluded with an assurance that the Promotions Committee was working to ensure that it did in fact have a full overview of her work.

 On 31 October Dr Evans sent direct to the members of the Promotions Committee a letter in which she protested against the exclusion from their consideration of material submitted after the closing date and of special circumstances relating to her case - in particular that she had felt compelled to have a resort to a Grievance procedure in order to persuade her Faculty Board to propose her. Accompanying this letter was a personal statement of circumstances supporting her proposal which she wished the Committee to consider, references to four books, eleven articles, six overseas and two domestic lectures, four additional publications, four items accepted for publication, two works commissioned but not yet published, two individual lectures published or to be published, two invitations from learned societies, and copies of three recent book reviews.

 The gratuitous circulation of this additional material beyond that which had been specified in the March circular letter resulted in a further letter from the Secretary General to Dr Evans, informing her that he had instructed the members of the Promotions Committee to ignore the additional material. In this letter the Secretary General explained that Dr Evans's grievance within her Faculty was not a matter for the Committee's consideration, nor could it consider what Dr Evans regarded as circumstances special to her case. Fairness to other applicants dictated that the Committee should consider only that material for which all applicants had been asked in the letter inviting applications.

 This, in turn, produced a further letter from Dr Evans urging that, until the Promotions Committee actually met to consider the proposals, candidates should be at liberty to submit for consideration any material which they felt might assist their respective applications. This letter was copied to all members of the Committee and, once again, the Secretary General informed them that they should ignore it. On 20 December he again wrote to Dr Evans reiterating that personal representations to members of the Committee were not acceptable.

 On 24 and 25 January 1997 a meeting of the Promotions Committee was held to consider recommendations to the Board. That meeting took place under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor. The Committee agreed to recommend twelve personal Professorships and thirty personal Readerships for the candidates named in a list attached to the minutes of the meeting. Dr Evans was not among those named in the recommendations. Before the consideration of the various proposals, the procedure for consideration was discussed and the minute reads:

The Secretary informed the Committee of several instances in which material in the form and/or from a source not covered by the procedure for the 1997 exercise had been received in connexion with particular proposals, which he did not name. The Committee were also informed that several proposals had, when submitted by the relevant Faculty Board, been judged by the Secretary not to comply with the standard format established for submissions for the 1997 round.

The Committee agreed that their recommendations would be made on the written evidence before them, which had been solicited within the guidelines for the 1997 exercise. They further agreed unanimously that any information other than this, whether from individual candidates or from any other source, would not be taken into account.

The recommendations of the Promotions Committee were forwarded to the General Board on 8 February and were considered by the Board at a meeting held on 12 February, when the recommendations were approved. Two days prior to this, Dr Evans had written to the Secretary General a short letter with which she enclosed a statement which she requested him to put before the Board and in which she challenged the Secretary General's authority and, semble, the authority of the General Board itself to lay down procedures for the consideration of proposals for promotion. That document and the accompanying letter were placed before the Board at the meeting, and the Vice-Chancellor outlined the circumstances in which additional material over and above that requested in the guidelines had been sent to members of the Promotions Committee. The matter was then discussed, in the absence of the Secretary General. The minute of that discussion reads as follows:

In the course of a brief discussion, the Board unanimously agreed:

(a) that the guidelines for the exercise were clear and must apply without variation to all candidates;
(b) that the Secretary General had acted, on behalf of the Committee, to ensure compliance with the guidelines, and in a way which the Committee had subsequently unanimously endorsed; to have acted otherwise would have been highly reprehensible; and
(c) that the officer's claim was unfounded.

The Board also agreed to include in the Annual Report on the establishment of personal Professorships and Readerships a statement to the effect that they were satisfied that the Committee's procedures conformed to the guidelines approved by the Board for the conduct of this year's exercise.

Finally the Board agreed that they had no objection to this minute being made available to the Council if it was thought appropriate on legal advice.

A draft Report of the Board embodying the Promotions Committee's recommendations was then approved, subject only to a few typographical amendments.

 On 17 March the Board's Annual Report was considered by the Council. Prior to this meeting, Dr Evans had prepared a lengthy memorandum in which she argued that the Secretary General and the Board had acted ultra vires. She is, as I understand it, herself a member of the Council and I infer that this document was placed before the meeting, and that she took the opportunity to address the Council in support of her contentions. Nevertheless, the Council approved the Annual Report of the Board, and that Report was published on 19 March. On 24 March Dr Evans made the representation under Statute K which has given rise to my inquiry. I understand that she has also instituted proceedings in the High Court to obtain leave to apply for a judicial review.

Summary of Dr Evans's representations

'The matter' into which I am to inquire is the matter of Dr Evans's written representations lodged in accordance with the Statute. That is the extent of my remit. Since those representations were made, Dr Evans has considerably elaborated on them in a number of different documents, all of which have been transmitted to me, and in which she raises a number of complaints which travel considerably beyond the original representations, and which embrace complaints about the University policy with regard to promotions, the way in which matters have been handled at Faculty level, the fairness of treatment of candidates whose work embraces disciplines of more than one Faculty, the position of the Vice-Chancellor, and so forth. My remit does not entitle me, nor indeed am I competent, to undertake an inquiry into these matters or to express any view about whether or not complaints beyond those comprised in Dr Evans's original representations are or are not justified. It may be helpful, however, if I summarize the content of those representations as they emerge from her letter to the Vice-Chancellor dated 24 March 1997. They fall under two main heads. First, Dr Evans alleges that the General Board could not and did not properly discharge its functions under the Statute in endorsing and including in its Report the recommendations of its Promotions Committee unless it first saw the evidence considered by the Committee and inquired into the reasoning which led the Committee to make its recommendations. The argument here is that because, under Statute K, 9(b)(iii), delegation to a committee cannot, in the absence of any provision to the contrary by Statute or Ordinance, extend to an appointment to a University office, the actual appointment of those named in the Report had, to be valid, to be carried out by the General Board itself and not by the Committee of the General Board which made the recommendations. Since the members of the General Board have, under Statute K, 9(b)(ii), a right of access to all papers considered by any of its committees, the Board could not validly apply its collective mind to the appointments recommended by the Committee without first seeing and considering the material on the basis of which the Committee made its recommendations. Merely to accept and adopt the Committee's recommendations without some further consideration of the material before the Committee was not a valid exercise of the power to decide upon the appointment to ad hominem offices, which power falls to be exercised by, and only by, the Board as a whole, and so does not constitute an appointment.

 Second, Dr Evans complains about what she has categorized as 'the ultra vires point'. This falls under six sub-heads, as follows:

1. In so far as the procedure established in the guidelines for applications could be considered as having any binding effect, they could not be considered as Ordinances or Orders under Statute C, I, 2, since they do not relate to the administration or management of institutions under the Board's supervision nor to degrees, qualifications, or diplomas, nor to any matter delegated by Grace of the Regent House. They could, at highest, be no more than rules or regulations without binding effect and would in any event have to be made within the general intent of the Statutes of the University which are for 'the encouragement of learning'. A regulation which excludes consideration of one or more aspects of a candidate's learning cannot be for the encouragement of learning and would in any event be ultra vires.
2. It was ultra vires for the Secretary General to instruct the Promotions Committee to exclude from its consideration material which was either out of time or which fell outside that required in the procedural guidelines, and for the Committee to accept and act upon such instruction invalidated their consideration of the applications. Consequently, their recommendations to the Board were likewise invalidated.
3. The Promotions Committee acted:
(a) in contravention of the Statutes of the University and
(b) ultra vires
(i) in proceeding with a consideration of the applications before it in the face of concerns previously expressed by Dr Evans at a meeting of the Senate in October regarding the act of the Secretary General in returning to her material outwith the guidelines which she had sent to members of the Committee;
(ii) in agreeing to proceed with their consideration on the basis only of material submitted to them within the procedural guidelines and in taking no account of material or representations outwith those guidelines;
(iii) in making their recommendations to the General Board on the basis of such consideration.
4. The General Board itself acted in contravention of the Statutes and ultra vires:
(i) in purporting, at its meeting of 12 February 1997, to endorse and adopt the Secretary General's advice to the Promotions Committee that the procedural guidelines should be adhered to in relation to the material to be considered, and
(ii) in accepting the Committee's recommendations arrived at in reliance on the guidelines, and in authorizing the Secretary General to write to successful candidates (see 1 above).
5. The guidelines themselves were invalid and of no effect because
(i) they were not authorized by the Board before being acted upon by the Promotions Committee and
(ii) they were in any event bad in law (semble, because unfair or unreasonable and/or incompatible with the 'encouragement of learning').
6. The Council likewise acted in contravention of the Statutes and ultra vires in that it proceeded to a consideration of the Report of the General Board without first disposing of the concerns voiced by Dr Evans and/or considering certain legal advice which appears to have been obtained by the University but which I have not seen.


In expressing this Opinion, I must stress once again the very limited nature of the inquiry which I am required by the Statute to undertake. It is evident from the papers before me, and indeed Dr Evans herself asserts, that Dr Evans has, for some years, been more than a little dissatisfied with the career structure of the University and, in particular, with the procedures adopted by the University for determining elections and appointments to ad hominem posts, and that she has conducted a systematic campaign to persuade the University to adopt a policy and procedure more acceptable to her and to others of a similar persuasion. The merits or demerits of this campaign are not matters upon which I am either qualified or entitled to express any opinion. I am neither empowered nor am I equipped to carry out a judicial review of the University's policies or practices. My sole and exclusive function under the Statute is to determine, as the deputy of the Vice-Chancellor, whether or not there has been, in any of the relevant acts of the Council, the General Board, the Promotions Committee, or the Secretary General any contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances of the University.

 At the outset of the inquiry there has to be determined what is meant by the expression 'a contravention of the Statutes and Ordinances' in Clause 5 of Statute K. As previously mentioned, there is no Statute or Ordinance regulating in terms the processes for appointment to personal Readerships. The power to create Readerships is contained in Statute D, XVI, 1, and the only express provision regarding the procedure to be adopted is in Regulation 4 of the Special Regulations for the University office of Reader, requiring proposals for the creation of personal Readerships to be submitted by the General Board in the form of a Grace authorizing the appointment. That this procedure has been adopted in the instant case is not in question. For the purposes of this inquiry, however, I must, I think, assume that the ordinary rules governing the exercise of statutory powers apply, that is to say that such power shall be exercised by the person or body in whom it is vested by the Statute bona fide, for the purpose for which it was created and reasonably, after taking into account relevant considerations and excluding such as are irrelevant. Dr Evans adds the additional requirement that the exercise must be objectively 'fair', although that is not an easy concept to apply, and would, I think, be already comprehended in the requirement that the exercise must not be unreasonable, for anything that is manifestly unfair could hardly be such as a reasonable person could support. I am certainly prepared to assume, for the purposes of this inquiry, that an exercise of the statutory power to create personal Readerships which infringed the ordinary rules governing the exercise of statutory powers would constitute itself a contravention of the Statute creating the power, and I express this Opinion on this basis.

 Although I have attempted above to summarize the complaints which Dr Evans makes, it will, I think, be more convenient, rather than seeking to consider them in the order set out above, to deliver my opinion by postulating and seeking to answer a series of questions at each stage of the procedure which has in fact been followed.

1. Was the General Board the appropriate body for inviting, considering, and making recommendations with regard to applications for appointment to personal Readerships or Professorships?
At the root of this inquiry lie the provisions of Statute C, I regulating the powers of the General Board and Statute K, 9 regulating the proceedings of committees of the various bodies constituted by the previous Statutes.
As the body responsible, under Statute C, I, 1(a), for managing the academic and educational affairs and policy of the University, there can be no doubt that the General Board was and is the appropriate body for establishing the criteria and procedures for appointment to those personal academic posts for which funds are from time to time made available by the Council in the course of its management of the University's resources. Dr Evans has pointed out that the Board's power to enact Ordinances and to issue Orders relates to a limited range of matters, which do not include the establishment of procedures for the making of ad hominem appointments. This is, of course, true, but it would be a mistake to suggest that everything that the General Board does in the exercise of its functions has to be carried out by enacting an Ordinance or making an Order. There is no reason whatever why the General Board, in the exercise of its functions, should not regulate its own procedures in the way which appears to it best suited to its purposes, and to make and publish the rules - whether described as 'rules' or 'guidelines' is immaterial - by which it proposes to regulate the carrying out of its functions and the administrative and other provisions to be complied with. If the question is asked, was the General Board entitled, in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Statutes, to lay down the criteria and to establish the procedures set forth in the circular letter of 21 March 1996, the answer is, in my opinion, plainly in the affirmative.
2. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair or unreasonable in delegating to a committee of the Board formed for the purpose the consideration and sifting of applications for promotion?
Clearly, if the General Board was of the opinion that the consideration of applications could be better regulated or managed by a committee of the Board rather than by the Board acting a whole, such delegation was authorized in terms by Statute K, 9 referred to above. Generally speaking, delegation to committees by a body of any substantial size is the only practicable and convenient way in which such a body can carry out its functions. Anyone familiar with the workings of local government will be aware that this - the delegation of particular spheres of activity to committees which report to meetings of the delegating body as a whole - is the ordinary and familiar way in which the business of local authorities is conducted. Of course, the ultimate responsibility for any decision remains with the delegating body, as, in the instant case, is expressly provided by the proviso to Statute K, 9. Thus the decision of an issue referred to a committee has finally to rest with the delegating body. And, as Dr Evans points out, the proviso goes on expressly to state that the actual election or appointment to any University office is something that cannot be delegated to a committee. It is the next stage of Dr Evans's argument that I have found myself unable to accept. True, the actual decision upon any given election or appointment is the decision of the delegating body, but this cannot rationally be translated into a requirement that the delegating body, in reaching its decision, must carry out the same sifting and evaluation process that has just been carried out by the committee to which the consideration of the matter has been delegated. Of course, it is open to the delegating body or, indeed, any member of it, to question or investigate further any recommendation of its committee, and the proviso confers expressly on members of the delegating body a right of access to any papers considered by its committee, although I should have thought that this was in any event implicit even without express mention. But what Dr Evans seeks to argue from this, if I have understood her aright (and I apologise if I have not), is that this imposes on the delegating body - in this case, the General Board - and its members a positive obligation, before accepting any recommendation of its committee, to retrace and investigate the process followed by the committee and to consider for itself the material upon which the committee relied in arriving at its recommendations. If this is indeed the argument, it is not one which I feel able to accept. I will return to this later in this Opinion when I come to consider the decisive meeting of the General Board in January 1997.
3. If delegation was permissible, was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in the preparation and issuing by the Board, in conjunction with the Secretary General, as Secretary to the Board, of rules or guidelines establishing
(a) the procedure to be followed by its Promotions Committee or
(b) the criteria to be adopted or
(c) the nature and extent of the material to be taken into account in assessing whether candidates met the criteria and their relative merits?
(a) There can be nothing whatever wrong with the establishment of a systematic procedure for applications for promotion within the University and for the consideration and evaluation of applications. Indeed, not to do so would be administratively impossible, and I do not understand Dr Evans to suggest otherwise. As the body charged under the Special Regulations with the responsibility for making and submitting recommendations for such appointments, the General Board was plainly the body to establish such a system and to establish the criteria for promotion.
Equally plainly, the Secretary General, as Secretary to the Board and as the Council's principal adviser on academic and educational matters, was properly to be consulted and involved in the evolution of any such system, and was the proper person to oversee the practical operation of any systematic procedure established. Again, I do not understand Dr Evans to challenge this, and the systematic pattern adopted for the year 1997 has been established and operated within the University, with minor alterations from time to time, for many years. Nor, as I understand her, does Dr Evans challenge the propriety of adopting and publishing in each year the procedure which the General Board requires to be adopted by Faculty Boards for the making and processing of proposals for promotion, although she expresses some trenchant criticisms regarding the way in which the system operates at Faculty Board level. Whether this is done by issuing 'guidelines' or rules or regulations seems to me to be entirely immaterial. The matters upon which, as I understand her submissions, Dr Evans does take issue are, first, whether the guidelines were in fact ever adopted by the General Board prior to its meeting in February 1997 to consider the recommendations of its Promotions Committee - an issue which, in turn, raises the question of the propriety of the consideration by the Committee of applications in accordance with the guidelines - second, whether the guidelines were sufficiently published to applicants, so that they could fairly understand, before making application, what was required of them, and, third, the propriety of the guidelines as governing the amount of material which the Board or its Promotions Committee was to take into account in making its evaluation.
As regards the first of these issues, Dr Evans seeks to suggest that, because the Vice-Chancellor, at the meeting of the Board in February, found it necessary to remind himself and the members of the Board of the contents of the guidelines, this demonstrates that, until they purported to adopt and ratify the acts of the Secretary General, the guidelines never were, at the material time, when the Promotions Committee considered applications on the basis of the material provided for therein, the Board's guidelines but simply procedural rules adopted by the Committee and applied at the instance of the Secretary General. This argument - and I hope again that I have not mis-stated it - appears to me to be simply factually incorrect. I do not, in fact, find any substance in the suggestion that the Board could not properly adopt and ratify the acts of its Promotions Committee, even if the facts were as Dr Evans suggests, but it is in fact clear that the guidelines were considered and approved by the Board itself. The procedure set forth in the guidelines had been in operation for many years and had been sanctioned by the General Board and, specifically in relation to the current year, had been considered and sanctioned by the Board, together with the timetable, at its meeting in March 1996 and again at its meeting in July 1996, when it was decided to increase the size of the Promotions Committee by the addition of two outside members.
(b) As regards the second issue mentioned above, I can find no substance in the suggestion that the guidelines were insufficiently published. It had, for years, been the practice to invite applications from the Faculty Boards and for the Faculty Boards to bring to the notice of applicants the conditions upon which applications were to be made and the material required in support. I can see nothing wrong, unfair, or unreasonable about this. The terms of the circular letter were perfectly clear, and the importance of adherence to the guidelines was stressed. I have no reason to believe that this was not passed on to applicants by the Faculty Boards nor does it appear, so far as I can ascertain from her submissions, that Dr Evans was unaware of the procedural requirements regarding the material to be submitted. My understanding is that she was aware of them, but did not regard them as exhaustive or as fairly applicable to her case.
(c) As regards the third issue referred to above, I do not understand Dr Evans to quarrel with the criteria for promotion established by the Board. What she challenges is the propriety of restricting the amount of material to be made available to those charged with the task of evaluating whether and to what extent candidates meet those criteria. Any assessment of whether, in this respect or, indeed, in any other respect, the guidelines were fair and reasonable had necessarily to begin with a consideration of what they were trying to achieve, and the circumstances in which they were trying to achieve it. The establishment and maintenance of Readerships - we can disregard Professorships for present purposes - is, as the Statute makes clear, a discretionary matter. No one is entitled to demand that he or she be appointed a Reader, and whether any and, if so, how many Readerships shall be created at any given time is a matter of University policy and, no doubt, of the funds from time to time available. In a University with a large number of officers with, almost by definition, high academic qualifications, the exercise of selecting appointees to Readerships is necessarily a highly competitive one. There is no absolute, objective standard by which the merits of any particular individual can be established. The evaluation of the merits of the competing claims of available appointees must necessarily rest, in the ultimate analysis, upon the opinion and judgement of those entrusted with the task of recommending appointment. If the University is to adopt a systematic approach to this problem, as it clearly must do if appointment to such offices is not to be entirely haphazard, it is clearly necessary to devise a system which is:
(a) administratively workable, having regard to the numbers to be considered and the time that selectors can devote to their task, and
(b) the same for all candidates for appointment.
This inevitably entails the placing of some limitations upon the amount of material to be considered by the selecting body - in the instant case a committee of eight senior academics.
At the outset, Dr Evans queries whether the guidelines ever did, in fact, limit the material to be put before the Promotions Committee and contends that this was a gloss placed on them wrongly by the Secretary General and, at his instance, by the Committee itself. The specification, she argues, of the material required to support an application does not rule out the provision of other additional material which an individual candidate may consider to be relevant or helpful to his or her application. Whilst this may be literally accurate (although there is a well-known axiom of statutory construction - expressio unius est exclusio alterius), I should have thought that it was tolerably plain to anyone reading the guidelines, accompanied as they were by an intimation of the importance of adhering to them as closely as possible, that anything beyond the material which the guidelines required would be surplus to the Promotions Committee's requirements. That seems to me implicit on a fair reading, and I am told in the University's Response, and have no reason to doubt, that it had for many years been the practice to return to a candidate, or his or her Faculty, material submitted outwith that required in the instructions for application. It will be necessary to return to this later in the context of the actions of the Secretary General.
On the footing that the guidelines had, as in my opinion they did, the effect of limiting the Committee's consideration to the material specified therein, this is an aspect of the system evolved by the University to which Dr Evans particularly addresses her criticism. The issue of rules for the consideration of candidature prescribing the form and limiting the content of applications was, in my judgement, plainly within the powers of the General Board, but what Dr Evans particularly criticizes as unfair and/or unreasonable is the degree to which the guidelines restricted what was to be placed before the Promotions Committee. The particular respects in which she suggests that the guidelines were unreasonable or unfairly restrictive are that, although they called for a complete list of publications, they limited the publications which the Committee would be particularly asked to take into account to what the candidate considered to be his or her best six, that they made no provision for the submission of any further material, and that, by stressing the importance of a strict adherence, so far as possible, to the guidelines' requirements, they excluded by implication any other material which an individual candidate might consider to be supportive of or relevant to his or her application (such as, in her case, further publications or prospective publications since the closing date, invitations to lecture, published lectures, book reviews, and a personal statement of circumstance which, she argues, made her especially deserving of consideration for promotion). The effect, she argues, was to force upon the Promotions Committee a blinkered approach that excluded from consideration much material which ought, in her view, to be relevant to a proper determination of the merits of competing applications.
In her comments on the University's Response, Dr Evans lists the central questions as follows, and I paraphrase:
(1) Might the result of the exercise have been different if material outside the specified categories had not been excluded?
(2) Was the Secretary General consistent in his approach?
(3) Was a 'rigid' approach compatible with fairness?
(4) Was the procedure defective in that it failed to control the policy of, or to give guidance to, the Faculties as to the number of candidates whom they should propose?
I do not agree. Question (1) does not arise, except obliquely as an element of the manifest unfairness which Dr Evans alleges, unless and until it is first established whether the procedure contravened some provision of the University Statutes or Ordinances. The consistency of the Secretary General's approach no doubt properly falls to be considered in connexion with what Dr Evans has categorized as 'the ultra vires point', but it does not appear to me to be central at this stage of the discussion. As to the policy or lack of guidance at the level of the Faculty Boards, this may or may not be a legitimate criticism of the effectiveness as a whole of the University's promotion structures in bringing forward the most suitable candidates, but it does not appear to me to have any bearing upon the only point upon which I am called upon to express an opinion. Question (3), I agree, may be said to be central, although 'rigidity' is, perhaps, a controversial way of expressing it, but it is, as it seems to me, subsumed in what I take to be the critical question in relation to the interpretation placed upon the guidelines which I prefer to state thus:
Was the procedure envisaged in the guidelines - that is to say, a procedure under which applications for promotion were to be considered by reference only to candidates' c.v.s, reports, and assessments from Faculty or Department Heads, up-to-date lists of published works accompanied by candidates' own assessment of their six best works, together with reports from referees - (a) a procedure the adoption of which was ex facie within the terms of the statutory powers, and if so (b) a procedure which was so unreasonable or so manifestly unfair that no reasonable body properly instructing itself could reasonably adopt or apply it?
I stress once again, however, the limited nature of my inquiry. The question that I have to determine is not whether the University's policy with regard to promotions is a beneficent one compared with the policy of some other universities, nor whether the procedures adopted are ideal procedures for enabling the selectors, in a highly competitive exercise, to assess the comparative merits of the applicants inter se with an accuracy capable of measurement by some objective standard - if such an exercise is possible at all - but whether the guideline procedure was so unfair or unreasonable that no reasonable committee, properly instructing itself, could have adopted or adhered to it.
This is the so-called 'Wednesbury' test of unreasonableness, and whilst it may well be the case that what some, perhaps many, people may consider better or more appropriate procedures can be devised (as indeed, I understand, they have been in respect of the current round of promotions) the guidelines applied in respect of the year 1997 fall, in my opinion, a very long way short of satisfying it, and were not in contravention of the Statutes of the University
4. Was it ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable to exclude from the Promotions Committee's consideration personal statements by candidates in support of their applications or other material which particular candidates might have considered to be calculated to advance the merits of their respective applications as against the applications of other candidates?
Dr Evans, in her comments on the University's Response, says that no reason has been advanced as to why, as she asserts occurs in some other universities, candidates should not be entitled to submit with their applications any material that they regard as relevant or helpful. To confine applicants to specified material, she suggests, is to deprive the body called upon to consider applications of relevant matter and is thus unfair and unreasonable. I find myself unable to agree with this. What is relevant matter depends upon the terms and conditions of the exercise in which relevance falls to be considered and the circumstances in which it takes place. It is not for the candidates to demand that the adjudicating body consider every bit of material which the candidates' subjective opinion suggests is relevant to be considered. The guidelines were clearly designed to produce for the Promotions Committee a volume of material which would:
(a) be of manageable proportions,
(b) be the same for all candidates, and
(c) be capable, having regard to past experience and taken in conjunction with outside references and assessment from Faculty Heads, of enabling the Promotions Committee to form an assessment of the respective candidates' merits.
This may not be the ideal way of approaching the problem of evaluation, but it is, in my estimation, very far from being unfair or unreasonable. One has only to consider the practical effect of placing before the Committee a particular candidate's assessment of his or her own abilities and statements of the special circumstances which he or she claims should provide him or her with a priority over other candidates. It has to be borne in mind that this is a competitive exercise. If such material were to be admitted from one candidate, fairness would demand that the whole exercise should be re-opened to invite other candidates also to submit additional material and personal pleas, and to give other candidates an opportunity to investigate and challenge the accuracy of the personal pleas in order to show that their own particular circumstances are more special than other candidates' special circumstances.
I see nothing unfair or unreasonable in the provision of a common formula for all candidates.
5. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in fixing a closing date by which applications and supporting material should be submitted?
Plainly, in my opinion, there was not, and I do not understand Dr Evans to contend otherwise. What she complains of, if I understand her aright, is that the closing date fixed in the instant case was too far in advance of the Promotions Committee's determination and, in any event, that it should have been capable of being waived so as to admit of material submitted subsequently. She also complains of a lack of consistency on the part of the Secretary General in that he did in fact, in her case, admit the letter from the Regius Professor of Divinity which arrived on 1 August. This really does seem to me to be a non-point. That the Secretary General in fact admitted a testimonial in Dr Evans's favour when it arrived one day late certainly did not prejudice her application, and can be relevant only as showing, as Dr Evans would have it, that the Secretary General allowed himself a latitude which he later denied, and that he was inconsistent in that, having admitted a late and additional document in her case, he subsequently declined to admit additional documents outside the categories specified in the guidelines which were tendered by a Dr Thomas over a month late and at a time when the application documents had, as I understand, already been copied to the Promotions Committee. I really cannot find that anything turns on this point. In any exercise of this nature, there has to be a cut-off date, and when it is to be fixed is a matter of judgement for those who are responsible for overseeing and administering the exercise. The fact that the Secretary General in this case permitted, on his own authority and, as I understand it, in conformity with an established practice in the case of interdisciplinary candidates, an insignificant departure from the strict letter of the guidelines appears to me to be entirely immaterial.
6. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in the Secretary General's refusal to put before the Committee or the Board material, whenever received, of a nature other than that specified in the guidelines?
This is what Dr Evans has described as 'the ultra vires point'. It is the crux of her case and needs to be examined with some care. What Dr Evans asserts is that the guidelines not only were not binding upon anybody but did not in terms restrict the material which applicants for promotion were entitled to submit with their applications. The Secretary General, who was not a member of the Board or of the Promotions Committee, had no entitlement to 'instruct' the Committee not to take account of any material which a candidate chose to tender for inclusion in his or her application or to send to members of the Committee direct and, in doing so, he was not only exceeding his powers as Secretary but also taking upon himself a decision-making function which, under the Statutes and Ordinances of the University, he did not possess. The Secretary General's decision not to include in Dr Evans's papers and place before the Promotions Committee for their consideration the additional documents which she required was, therefore, ultra vires and a breach of the University Statutes.
In testing these submissions the first step must be a consideration of the origins, purpose, interpretation, and effect of the guidelines. It is not, I think, in dispute that the promotion procedure within the University had followed the same general pattern for the past thirty years, with the Faculty Boards acting, as it were, as an initial filter for those officers of the University desirous of being considered for promotion to personal posts. It is said, as I understand it, at the Faculty level that such officers have the opportunity, if they wish, to present personal statements of reasons why they wish their names to be proposed or not to be proposed by the relevant Faculty Board. It is then, at the stage of proposing the names of those whom they wish to have considered that the Faculty Boards are required to assemble and forward to the General Board the material which the Board has indicated that it requires in support of nominations. There is certainly room for more than one view about whether this is an ideal procedure, but it is a procedure that has operated for many years and, as I have already indicated, I do not think that it could possibly be considered as one which no reasonable body could fairly adopt. The fact that, as I understand it, the General Board is adopting, for the current and subsequent years, a procedure which it regards as better suited to its purposes certainly cannot, as Dr Evans suggests, be construed as an admission that the procedure adopted for the 1997 round was unreasonable or unfair.
The procedure starts with a circular from the Secretary General to the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Faculty Boards, inviting them to propose names for consideration by the General Board, and containing a specification of the form that such proposals shall take and of the material required by the General Board or its Committee in support of such proposals. The terms of such letter and the procedural requirements are considered and approved both by the General Board and by its Committee before despatch to the Faculties. The purpose and effect of such circular is to establish a procedure which will be the same for all Faculties and for all officers proposed by them for consideration, and also to act as an instruction to the Secretary General and his or her staff in the processing and preparation of the papers to be put before the Promotions Committee.
Turning now to the instant case, the procedural requirements for the 1997 round were set out in the Secretary General's circular letter of 21 March 1996. The terms of this annual circular to Faculty Boards had been submitted in draft to, and considered and approved by, the Promotions Committee on 20 February, and they were subsequently approved and adopted by the General Board itself on 13 March. They therefore represented not only the Committee's but the Board's requirements as to the procedure to be followed, and they operated not simply as an instruction to the Faculty Boards but also to the Secretary General as Secretary both to the Board and to the Committee. It cannot reasonably be assumed that, in approving and adopting the terms of the annual circular letter, either the Board or the members of its Committee were unaware of the procedure adopted over the past thirty years of specifying the material to be placed before the Committee for its deliberations and of placing before the Committee for its deliberations and of placing before the Committee only the material specified in the circular. I find myself unable to discern any equivocation in the circular or the attached guidelines, which seem to me to be perfectly clear. Thus, for instance, the limitations on the length of c.v.s and the specification by candidates of what they consider their best publications are emphasized by being printed in bold type. In the body of the circular letter there appears the following statement:

The preparation and presentation of the cases for personal proposals is extremely important. Please follow the attached guidelines as closely as possible and if you have any questions or need any advice relating to the process please contact my [i.e. the Secretary General's] assistant.

This really could not be much clearer. It emphasizes the importance of a close adherence to the guidelines, and it invites the recipients to apply to the Secretary General for the resolution of any difficulties that they may encounter in interpreting or applying them. Dr Evans contends that there is nothing in the guidelines to indicate to Faculty Boards that any documents or representations that a candidate might wish to be considered should not be submitted with the application, and would not be taken into account. After all, she would say no doubt, the words used in the guidelines under the heading 'Documentation' are 'Each proposal should include'. I find myself unimpressed by this argument. I do not think that any Faculty Board Chairman or Secretary reading the circular could have thought for one moment that its intention was either that a candidate should be free to insist upon the inclusion of whatever material or representations he or she thought might be helpful to his or her case or that, despite the specification of the documentation required, the Secretary General or his staff was to be compelled to include in a candidate's papers whatever was sent to him or to have a discretion about what should or should not be copied to and placed before the Promotions Committee. These guidelines, as it seems to me, constituted the General Board's instructions to its secretary, which could be departed from by him only by going back to the General Board for instructions requiring him to communicate with all those proposed, or their respective Faculty Boards, and invite them to submit whatever additional documents the Board might think appropriate in the interests of fairness to all candidates. I do not think that the Secretary General had any entitlement, of his own motion, to depart from the guidelines which his Board had adopted and approved and instructed him to send out to the Faculty Board Chairmen and Secretaries. He would, indeed, have been acting ultra vires if he had taken it upon himself to do so. Dr Evans suggests that there is to be imported into the guidelines some notion of 'flexibility', and she bases herself upon some anecdotal evidence of a conversation which she says that she had with Sir David Williams in which he said that 'nothing was writ in stone'. And, of course, that was right, for there was nothing to prevent the General Board, if it wished, from altering the procedure, even in mid-stream as it were, although this might have been very inconvenient and confusing. She suggests that there must have been some unannounced change of policy. The University says that the policy has remained the same for at least the past eight years, and that material outwith that specified in the General Board's guidelines has been regularly excluded from the papers put before the Promotions Committee. Whether this is right or wrong is, in my judgement, immaterial. The guidelines for the year 1997 were perfectly plain and the Board's Secretary and his staff were obliged to follow them unless instructed by the Board to the contrary. If the Secretary General received from the Faculty Board or from the candidate personally material which did not comply with the specification, he had only two options. He could report the matter to the General Board and seek instructions as to whether the Board wished to revise their published procedures to provide for the submission of additional material, or he could return the material to the source from which he received it. What he clearly could not do without higher authority was to make an exceptional case for one particular candidate by including the surplus material in his or her papers and inviting the Promotions Committee to take it into account in their deliberations. Nor, if he had done so, would it have been proper for the Committee, who were equally bound by the General Board's instructions, which they themselves had adopted and approved, to have accepted such an invitation without prior authority from the Board. When, therefore, the Secretary General received from the Faculty Board of History the additional material which Dr Evans wanted the Committee to consider, his action in returning it was, in my opinion, perfectly proper. Dr Evans then, on 31 October, sent the material direct to each member of the Committee, whereupon the Secretary General wrote to each member of the Committee telling him to disregard it. It is this to which Dr Evans particularly takes exception. The Secretary General was not a member of the Promotions Committee and had no power, therefore, she argues, to 'instruct' its members about what they should or should not do. In so 'instructing' them, she alleges, he was not only exceeding his powers as Secretary but involving himself wrongly in the process of decision making. This, I am bound to say, seems to me to be a purely semantic point. True, the Promotions Committee was not bound to follow its Secretary's 'instructions', but whether the right word is 'advise' or 'suggest' or any equivalent is really entirely immaterial. The Promotions Committee was a committee of the General Board and was bound to follow the Board's instructions, which it itself had approved. To have made a special case for Dr Evans and to have entertained personal pleas from her in support of her application would, in a competitive exercise, have been so obviously unfair to other candidates who had not been invited and given the opportunity to submit similar representations that I find myself unsurprised that the members of the Promotions Committee did not seek to question the correctness of their secretary's 'instruction' or his entitlement to give it. Dr Evans argues that the Secretary General's actions amounted to the making of an academic judgement by an administrative officer. In my opinion it was nothing of the sort. To remind the Committee of its own guidelines and to draw attention to the non-acceptability of direct and personal representations by an individual candidate would not, in my view, be considered to be the making of an academic judgement in any ordinary use of language. In her submissions, Dr Evans points to four stages at which she alleges that the Secretary General made academic decisions which were outside his province. These were:
(i) between 1 and 8 August, when he permitted the letter from the Regius Professor of Divinity to be included in Dr Evans's papers;
(ii) on 13 September, when he returned to her documents falling outside the specified categories which had been submitted through the Faculty Board of History;
(iii) in November, when he wrote to the members of the Promotions Committee telling them to disregard the personal representations in Dr Evans's letter of 31 October and the additional documents which accompanied that letter; and
(iv) in December, when he wrote to members of the Promotions Committee telling them that they should disregard the representations contained in her letter to him of 11 November which had been copied by her to each member of the Committee.
For the reasons which I have endeavoured to express above, I am unable to agree that any of these actions, with the possible exception of (i) above, was ultra vires or constituted anything more than the proper performance of the Secretary General's duty to give effect to the guidelines which represented his instructions from the General Board and the Promotions Committee. As regards (i), it might, I suppose, be argued that, in bending the rules to the extent of an indulgence in Dr Evans's favour, which I understood in any event followed an established practice in relation to interdisciplinary candidates, the Secretary General was exceeding his instructions to an extent which might entitle other candidates to complain, but I find it difficult to see how this could be said to be the exercise of an academic judgement by an administrative officer and, as Dr Evans herself recognizes, it is certainly not a matter which can properly give rise to any complaint on her part.
7. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in the acceptance by the Promotions Committee of the Secretary General's instruction and the consideration of Dr Evans's application without taking into account her representations and the additional material which she wished to submit?
Dr Evans appears to suggest that it was improper for the Promotions Committee, once it had received her personal representations in the two letters of 31 October and 11 November, to proceed to the consideration of applications and the making of their recommendations to the Board without conducting an investigation into her complaints. It is, however, clear from the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 24-25 January that the question of the material which was to be taken into account by the Committee, though not, it appears, specifically related to Dr Evans's case, was considered by the Committee. The Secretary General drew the Committee's attention to the fact that, in a certain case, material outwith that specified in the guidelines previously approved by the Committee had been received - a fact of which the members of the Committee must in fact have been already aware, since there is no reason to believe that they did not receive Dr Evans's letters - and the Committee resolved, without a dissentient, to proceed with the making of their recommendations on the basis of the materials specified in the approved guidelines. I can find no fault with this, and indeed they could not, in my opinion, have properly proceeded on any other basis without first consulting and receiving the authority of the General Board itself. I see no reason why the Promotions Committee should be bound to conduct an investigation into Dr Evans's complaints of an adherence to procedures which the Committee itself had adopted and approved.
If, of course, the Promotions Committee had taken a different view from that of the Secretary General about the admissibility of, for instance, direct representations from candidates, it would have been open to them to seek the instructions of the General Board as to whether they should depart from the previously agreed procedure. They did not do so, and I can see no reason why their failure to do so should be thought to invalidate their proceedings.
8. Was there anything ultra vires, invalid, unfair, or unreasonable in the approval by the General Board of the actions taken by the Secretary General in relation to Dr Evans's application?
In my opinion, no. Dr Evans attacks this on the footing that it was an ex post facto ratification of an act which had no authority in the first place. The Secretary General derived his authority from the instructions given to him by the General Board when it approved the guidelines and directed him to send them out, with the annual circular letter, to the Faculty Boards. The unanimous approval subsequently of the Secretary General's actions neither conferred nor purported to confer upon him any authority that he did not already have. I accept, of course, Dr Evans's submission that a subsequent endorsement cannot render intra vires an act which, at the time when it was done, was ultra vires. But, for the reasons which I have endeavoured to state above, I do not consider that the acts of the Secretary General of which she complains in her representations were ultra vires.
9. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in the acceptance by the General Board of the recommendations of the Promotions Committee without themselves first considering:
(a) the material placed before that Committee, or
(b) the reasoning of that Committee in reaching its recommendations, or
(c) additional material not placed before the Committee?
I confess that I find difficulty in following the submission that the General Board acted improperly and contrary to the Statutes in not traversing again the ground already traversed by the Promotions Committee to which it had properly delegated its function. Of course, in accepting its Committee's recommendations, the Board does not absolve itself from responsibility for them. Once approved and adopted, they become the recommendations of the Board itself and the Board assumes responsibility for them. But it is a novel proposition to me that a body which properly delegates its function to a committee is obliged itself to go through the very process of recommendation which it has delegated. That does not, of course, mean that the committee usurps the decision-making function of the delegating body. That body has the option of accepting or rejecting its committee's recommendations. If it accepts them, it assumes responsibility for them. In actual fact, in the instant case, the decision-making body is the Regent House when it approves the Grace which authorizes the General Board to make the appointments comprehended in its recommendations. The point which Dr Evans makes - or the point which I think she makes - is that the fact that the General Board was aware, before it adopted its Committee's recommendations, that she had raised objections to the procedure adopted by the Committee put the Board under a duty, before accepting the recommendations, to investigate her objections and vet the processes of the Committee. There might be some substance in this if the Board, upon inquiring into the procedure adopted by its Promotions Committee, as it did before accepting its recommendations, had concluded or had had grounds for concluding that the Committee had failed to follow the guidelines which it had previously adopted and which the Board itself had approved and adopted. But once it had been ascertained that the Promotions Committee had followed the guidelines laid down by the General Board itself and that the complaint was not that those guidelines had not been followed but that they had, it is difficult to see why the Board should be under any duty to retrace the very steps which it had delegated to the Committee. Dr Evans criticizes the fact that there was, according to the minute of the meeting of the General Board, only a 'brief discussion'. I do not know quite what 'brief' means in this context. Dr Evans had advanced lengthy and elaborate arguments in support of her contention that the Secretary General had acted beyond his powers, but in the end the matter falls within a tolerably small compass, and once it had been ascertained that he and the Promotions Committee had acted in accordance with the General Board's own guidelines, they may very well have taken the view that there was no further need to discuss the matter and that they could merely content themselves, as they did, with registering their approval of what had been done.
A further point which Dr Evans raises in the context of the General Board's deliberations is that if the Board accepts its Promotions Committee's recommendations as to who shall be promoted without seeing (and, semble, investigating) a list of those who are not recommended for promotion, it cannot properly form a view about whether it should accept the Committee's recommendations and therefore does not properly fulfil its functions. This is really the same point as that already outlined above, and in my opinion it misconceives the purpose and extent of a power to delegate functions.
10. Was there anything ultra vires, unfair, or unreasonable in the decision of the Council to accept the Report of the General Board and to authorize its publication?
The meeting of the Council which took place on 17 March of this year, and of which Dr Evans complains, terminated in a decision to approve for publication the Report of the General Board containing the recommendations of its Promotions Committee. Dr Evans has voiced numerous complaints about the conduct of this meeting, but, again, I have to remind myself that the only question into which I have to inquire is whether its proceedings, or anything done at the meeting, constituted a contravention of the Statutes of the University. Dr Evans, for instance, complains of an atmosphere of hostility and of discourtesy to herself. This, if accurate, is regrettable, but it does not fall within the ambit of my inquiry, and I do not feel that I can properly comment upon it. Dr Evans, who is a member of the Council, was present at part of the meeting and addressed those who attended. There was before the meeting the minute of the meeting of the General Board at which it adopted the recommendations of the Promotions Committee, together with the paper from Dr Evans which had been before the Board on that occasion and a further paper prepared by Dr Evans for the Council meeting. The reason why Dr Evans suggests that the resolution of the Council approving the Board's Report for publication was invalid and a contravention of the University Statutes is, if I have understood her aright, that the legal issues which she raised and argued had not been properly considered and determined when the resolution was put to the vote and passed. It seems that the University had obtained legal advice - I do not know from whom and I have not seen it. It may indeed have been oral. She complains that, whatever it was, it was not disclosed to the meeting, but that nevertheless the meeting was persuaded to overrule or disregard her objections without their being properly considered. Thus the complaint is, in substance, the same as her complaint about the meetings of the Promotions Committee and of the General Board, that those bodies should not have proceeded with their deliberations without resolving the ultra vires issues which she had raised. In the last analysis the argument stands or falls with the argument on the ultra vires issue itself, which I have already addressed above.


Dr Evans is, no doubt, an able and distinguished scholar, and she evidently harbours a burning sense of injustice that the promotions structure of the University has not been such as to accord a proper recognition not only of her talents but of those of a number of other able University officers. It does not lie within my province to express any opinion as to the justice or otherwise of her cause, except in so far as there can be discerned some relevant contravention of the University's Statutes or Ordinances. She has argued her case with a care, tenacity, and perseverance which cannot but excite admiration, and I have given the most careful attention of which I am capable to her many arguments, which have extended to more than five hundred pages of enlarged print. I hope that I may be forgiven if I do not deal seriatim with all the points which she has raised, some of them falling well outside the ambit of the inquiry which it has been my duty to conduct. Despite the clarity and perseverance with which she has presented her arguments, I have to say that, in the end of all, I find myself unpersuaded that the acts of which she complains contravened the Statutes or Ordinances of the University, and I so advise the Vice-Chancellor and declare.

20 July 1997


 1. Dr Evans is a Cambridge University Lecturer who has sought a personal Readership, so far unsuccessfully, through the University's internal applications procedure. She seeks leave to move for judicial review of the decision, conveyed to her on 12 February 1997, not to appoint her to a Readership later in the year. The decision, though formally that of the General Board, was in substance that of the committee formerly known as the ad hominem Committee and now known as the Personal Professorships and Readerships Committee, to whom the Board routinely delegates the evaluation of applications and the making of recommendations for appointments to personal Readerships and Professorships.

 2. For the 1996-97 round, the closing date for applications was 31 July 1996; in the coming round it is 1 September 1997. The present application for leave was lodged on 26 March 1997, well within three months of the notification of the outcome but far more than three months from the closing date and even further from the announcement of the round in February 1996.

 3. Dr Evans has presented her case in person with a measure of skill that would do credit to any barrister. I have had the assistance also of able submissions by Mr Charles Béar on behalf of the University. These have not, of course, covered the full ambit of the case but have been directed to matters which the University submits contra-indicate even the grant of leave. Nevertheless, his presence and assistance have emboldened me to go in this judgement a little further into some of the factual merits than one would ordinarily do on an ex parte application for leave.

Preliminary issues

 4. I am not moved by Mr Béar's invocation of time as a ground for refusing leave. If Dr Evans had applied during 1996 for the relief she now seeks, she would have been told, with justice, that she might yet obtain her Readership and have nothing material to complain about. That a challenge like the present one, brought in arrear, might jeopardise the situation of other candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, might be a discretionary ground for withholding or modifying relief which was otherwise called for, but the relevance of this comes later in this judgement.

 5. Cambridge University has no Visitor. The Vice-Chancellor is able to take the advice of a Commissary, and has done so in relation to one aspect of the present case. Acting upon the advice of the Commissary, Lord Oliver, the Vice-Chancellor has declared that there is no contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances in the delegated procedure which I have mentioned. It is Mr Béar's submission that Dr Evans has failed to use the procedure for further challenge which arises at such a point. It is set out in Statute K, 5 and provides that any fifty members of the Regent House dissatisfied with the Vice-Chancellor's decision may appeal within one week in writing to the Chancellor of the University, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, whose decision shall be final.

 6. I accept Dr Evans's submission, at least to the extent of holding it arguable, that this is not a true alternative form of recourse at all. It can relate in the present case only to the delegation issue and it can be operated only if forty-nine other members of the Regent House within one week are prepared to join with her in making the challenge.

 7. If, however, leave is granted, Mr Béar would seek to canvass as a preliminary issue the question to what extent, if any, the University's personal promotions procedures are amenable to challenge by judicial review, having in mind not only Statute K but the applicant's contractual relationship with the University and the general approach of the courts to judicial review of universities which do have Visitors.


 8. Statute D, XVI, 5 says: 'The appointment to a Readership shall be made in such manner as the University may from time to time determine.'' By Statute K, 9 every University body:

…may appoint committees for any such general or special business as in the opinion of the body may be regulated or managed by means of a committee, and may delegate to any committee so appointed, with or without restrictions or conditions, the exercise of any functions proper to the body, provided that (i) such delegation shall not relieve the delegating body of responsibility for the matter delegated; (ii) members of the delegating body shall have the right of access to all papers considered by such committees; (iii) subject to any contrary provision of statutes or ordinances, such delegation shall not extend…to any election or appointment to a University office……

 9. The evidence, supplemented by what the parties have told me, is that the General Board has as a matter of practice delegated the evaluation of applications to a committee. The distinction of the Committee's nine members, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, for the 1996-97 round is not in question. It carried out the entire process of evaluation, sending up to the General Board a recommendation that twelve personal Professorships and thirty personal Readerships be established from 1 October 1997, together with the names of the individuals to whom they were to be awarded, the conditions attached to the recommendations, and an estimate of the cost. The General Board had no more than this and, as it has always done, ratified the recommendations as they stood.

 10. Dr Evans submits, as she submitted to the Commissary, Lord Oliver, under Statute K, 5, that this is an unlawful delegation: in breach of Statute K, 9 (b), she submits, the delegation was such as to relieve the Board of responsibility for the selection of suitable candidates and extended the delegation to the forbidden field of appointment to a University office. Lord Oliver considered this argument and concluded:

True, the actual decision upon any given election or appointment is the decision of the delegating body, but this cannot rationally be translated into a requirement that the delegating body, in reaching its decision, must carry out the same sifting and evaluation process which has just been carried out by the committee to which the consideration of the matter had been delegated. Of course it is open to the delegating body or, indeed, any member of it to question or investigate further any recommendation of its committee, and the proviso confers expressly on members of the delegating body a right of access to any papers considered by its committee, although I should have thought that this was in any event implicit even without express mention. But what Dr Evans seeks to argue from this…that this imposes on the delegating body - in this case, the General Board - and its members a positive obligation, before accepting any recommendation of its committee, to retrace and investigate the process followed by the committee and to consider itself the material upon which the committee relied in arriving at its recommendations. If this is indeed the argument, it is not one I feel able to accept.

 11. Any puisne judge, particularly one who had the occasional privilege when at the Bar of appearing before Lord Oliver, will hesitate long before questioning his judgement. But there is in my respectful judgement a viable contrary view to his. It may well not go the full distance for which Dr Evans was contending, but the principle spelt out in Statute K, 9 represents a familiar doctrine of public law summarised in this way in de Smith, Woolf and Jowell, Judicial Review of Administrative Action (5th edition) para. 6-112 (2):

The degree of control (a priori or a posteriori) maintained by the delegating authority over the acts of the delegate or sub-delegate may be a material fact in determining the validity of the delegation. In general the control preserved (e.g. by a power to refuse to ratify an act or to reject a recommendation) must be close enough for the decision to be identifiable as that of the delegating authority.

If, for example, the information available to the Board is limited to the committee's conclusions, it may be able to be said that the decision of the Board was not to select the particular candidates for appointment but simply to adopt the selection made by the committee.

 12. The situation would, of course, be very different if the committee's evaluations were provided in unitary and summary form to the Board, so that without repeating the entire onerous exercise undertaken by the committee the Board could see how it had arrived at its recommendations and either approve them or seek, if it wished, to consider the basis upon which one or more of them had been reached. For reasons to which I will come in a moment, this may become possible with the procedures now being adopted; but it is arguably an impracticability in the situation which obtained on the 1996-97 round of applications. This involved, as I understand it, the forwarding to the committee the names of those candidates who had their Faculty's endorsement, followed by the soliciting of external references upon the quality of each candidate's published work. No method appears to have been laid down for the orderly evaluation and comparison of commentaries on the candidates. So far as I can tell, the number and names emerged after an intensive and extensive discussion and were presented as baldly as I have indicated to the Board. Short of asking for all the material and starting again, it is difficult to see how the Board could have exercised any independent scrutiny of the recommendations. It was this, evidently, which disinclined Lord Oliver to accept Dr Evans's argument. But it may be precisely the want of any means of surveillance of the delegated process which, arguably at least, has placed the Board in breach of Statute K, 9 by making it impracticable for it to exercise its non-delegable responsibility and thereby passing the appointment of Readers and Professors in practice to the committee.

 13.  In the 1996-97 round an evaluation form was provided to the Faculties for completion in regard to their candidates. It was also available, but on what Mr Béar at one point described as a 'voluntary basis', to the members of the committee. It is a form of a kind which is very familiar in modern management and equal opportunity practice. It sets out the criteria to be applied:

(a) Originality of research
(b) Nature of the contribution to knowledge
(c) Significance of the work for others
(d) Quality of publications and scholarly communications
(e) Intellectual leadership
(f) Reputation within: the candidate's own field of research; cognate disciplines; national peer groups; international scholarship.

For the 1997-98 round there has been added, for officers whose duties include teaching:

(g) An effective contribution to teaching.

Against each of these criteria, evaluation of the candidate is to be made on a scale of 1-4, the points on the scale having the following significance:

1. Awaiting further evidence and/or the evaluation of recent or immediately forthcoming work.
2. Reasonable doubt about the degree to which the candidate currently meets the relevant criterion.
3. Satisfactory evidence in respect of the relevant criterion, but the case is not yet overwhelming.
4. Proposal for promotion made on the grounds of very clear evidence being available in respect of the relevant criterion.

If, as I am told is the case, each member of the committee will in the coming round (in which Dr Evans has applied for a personal Professorship) be using these forms, the evaluations will for the first time be able to be assembled in clear and unitary form in relation to each candidate, explaining to the Board schematically and clearly why the recommended choices are as they are. And it will have a further value to which I now turn.


 14. The second of Dr Evans's main grounds of challenge is the failure of the committee to furnish any reasons for its recommendation to the Board, and of either body to furnish its reasons to the candidate. Successful candidates, no doubt, will be less interested in the reasons for their success than in the fact of it. But for unsuccessful candidates, as is nowadays widely recognised, it is of great importance to know why they failed. First and foremost it will tell them where to concentrate their efforts. Some candidates will have to come to terms with the fact that promotion is not for them. Occasionally, it may be, it will become apparent that the decision-makers have misapprehended or overlooked something relevant - a fault which will not necessarily make the decision reviewable but may well be open to correction on a future application. Above all, perhaps, the giving of reasons demonstrates that proper care has been taken over something of critical importance to the standing and career of each candidate.

 15. Mr Béar has drawn my attention to an obiter dictum of Lord Donaldson M.R. in R. v. Civil Service Appeal Board, ex parte Cunningham [1991] 4 All E R 310, 316:

The principles of public law will require that those affected by decisions are given the reasons for those decisions in some cases, but not in others. A classic example of the latter category is the decision not to appoint or not to promote an employee or office-holder or to fail an examinee.

While there is, as I accept, a real distinction between good practice and settled law, both in this field have been in constant motion over recent years and I am not certain, with great respect, that Lord Donaldson's example represents good practice, even if it arguably still represents the law.

 16. When a Divisional Court of which I was a member was required, in R. v. Higher Education Funding Council, ex parte Institute of Dental Surgery [1994] 1 WLR 242, to consider whether a pure exercise of academic judgement required the giving of reasons, we faced a situation in which it could no longer be said that a public law duty to give reasons was exceptional, but in which it was still axiomatic that there was no such general duty. Exegetically we were able to identify the two classes of case exemplified by R. v. Home Secretary, ex parte Doody [1994] 1 AC 331, where the subject matter itself was so important as to call for reasons, and by R. v. Civil Service Appeal Board, ex parte Cunningham (ante) where the decision was on the face of it so aberrant as to call for reasons. This was not to say, and we did not hold, that the categories of case in which reasons must be given were closed. In our concluding summary we went no further than to hold that the class of apparently aberrant decisions did not include those which were challengeable by reference only to the reasons for them, such as a pure exercise of academic judgement.

 17. In an incisive critique (the reference to which is not at hand, writing as I am in vacation) Professor Paul Craig has argued that our decision failed to square the circle. One obvious way in which this was so is that the first class of case - where the subject matter is itself of such importance to the individual as to demand reasons - is at least arguably capable of including a decision arrived at purely by academic judgement.

 18. The Court of Appeal had to revisit these issues in R. v. City of London, ex parte Matson (1995) 8 Admin LR 49. The Court took full account of the arguments summarised in the Institute of Dental Surgery case for and against the giving of reasons, and it concluded that the decision of the Court of Aldermen to reject the applicant's candidature for election as an alderman, following a full interview, was one which carried with it a duty to give him reasons for the decision. Giving the second judgement, Swinton Thomas L.J. rejected the City's submission that to give reasons would 'call for the articulation of inexpressible value judgements' - one of the arguments for withholding reasons advanced in the Institute of Dental Surgery case. He said:

I do not believe that it would be unduly difficult or arduous for the aldermen to give a collective reason for their decision. True it is that individual members may have considered differing factors. That is likely to apply to any collective decision. There is no difficulty in articulating a factual basis for a decision. If I am right in my conclusion that the aldermen are entitled to take into account their assessment of the alderman-elect's character and personality then, equally, I do not believe that any adverse assessment involves the articulation of inexpressible value judgements. Assessments of that nature are made day in, day out in every walk of life.

 19. In the Institute of Dental Surgery case we took a very similar view of the claimed impossibility of giving reasons. We said:

To suggest that the Panel's conclusion cannot be explained without 'undermining the whole purpose of a peer review assessment' seems to us, with respect, to devalue the assessment process. It would take a great deal more than this to persuade us that experienced and distinguished academics, whether individually or collectively, cannot assign reasons for their own judgement. It is unlikely that a similar reticence affects them either individually at examiners' meetings or collectively when writing joint reports.

 20. No public lawyer supposes that the last word has yet been said on the duty to give reasons. When one looks at judgements such as that of Kirby C.J. in Public Service Board v. Osmond [1984] 3 NSWLR 447, as well as at the decision of the High Court of Australia (1986) 60 AJLR 209 oversetting it, it is impossible to suggest that the law in this field is fully principled or even consistent. In the Institute of Dental Surgery case we took the liberty of remarking:

No doubt the common law will develop, as the common law does, case by case. It is not entirely satisfactory that this should be so, not least because experience suggests that in the absence of a prior principle irreconcilable or inconsistent decisions will emerge. But from the tenor of the decisions principles will come, and if common law's pragmatism has a virtue it is that these principles are likely to be robust. At present, however, this court cannot go beyond the proposition that, there being no general obligation to give reasons, there will be decisions for which fairness does not demand reasons. It follows that in appraising each case, the present included, too catholic in approach will amount to generalising what is still a particular obligation; though we are not prepared to accept Mr Beloff's contention that it is any longer an exceptional one.

 21. If one looks at the most recent English decision, that of the Court of Appeal in R. v. Home Secretary, ex parte Fayed [1997] 1 All ER 228, it is there recognised that but for the express statutory block on the giving of reasons, the common law would call for them to be given to an unsuccessful candidate for naturalisation.

 22. I consider it arguable, therefore, both that the categories derived from authority in the Institute of Dental Surgery case are incomplete, and that even within them there may be exercises of academic judgement which, though never patently aberrant, are nevertheless of sufficient importance to the individual to require that reasons be given for them.

Natural justice and bias

 23. I do not consider Dr Evans's other points to be arguable. They are, in short, that the University acted unfairly in refusing to let her put in further supporting material which had only come into being or into her hands after the closing date of 31 July 1996; and that there was at least an undercurrent of personal hostility to her which, in particular through the member of the committee representing the History Faculty, might have injured her chances. The first of these, although it was the major grievance which Dr Evans placed before Lord Oliver, fails to allow for the elementary fact that every decision-making body has to have a cut-off point for evidence, and that unless the cut-off point is the same for everybody endless unfairness will result.

 24. The process of seeking external references was inevitably a long one, and no criticism can be levelled at the setting of the closing date at 31 July. There will always be hardships and casualties, at least for the year in question, when this is done; but there is no rational alternative to it. As to bias, Dr Evans has made herself prominent and possibly unpopular in certain quarters of the University by her campaign (for which many others will, I suspect, admire her). But there is no evidence at all to suggest that any individual carried into the decision-making process some personal animus towards her.

The grant of leave

 25. No court can award Dr Evans a Readership. Since there was, as always, a finite number of appointments to be made, the court (if she succeeds) would have to consider undoing all the appointments to Readerships which are about to come into effect from 1 October this year in order to have the evaluation process lawfully conducted. There is no suggestion that any of the thirty newly appointed Readers is unworthy of the post. I cannot conceive, therefore, of any possibility that more than declaratory relief would be granted in relation to the 1996-97 round, but such relief too is likely to be withheld on the ground that it would cast unfair doubt on the qualities of the successful candidates without any tangible benefit to Dr Evans.

 26. It will be recalled that in the Institute of Dental Surgery case, speaking obiter, the Court at the end of its judgement pointed out that it is today often necessary, in order to demonstrate compliance with the law, for competitive evaluations to be made according to a common set of relevant criteria, it being recognised that there is effectively no other way of producing parity of approach by the decision-makers and parity of opportunity among the candidates, both being fundamentals of any fair procedure.

 27. The methodical use of such an evaluation process is likely to answer the two major concerns raised by Dr Evans's application. It will enable the Board not simply to adopt conclusions in possible ignorance of the reasons for them. And it will permit a disappointed candidate to be told, if he or she wishes it, how they have been rated by the committee. (It may not, I accept, enable the candidate to trace the full comparative exercise, but while this may be necessary in order to adjudicate on a claim for race or sex discrimination, it is not necessarily a requirement of legal fairness).

 28. The real value, both to Dr Evans and to others, of the arguments which are realistically available to her is in relation to the next round of applications, for which the closing date has not yet arrived. In relation to these, it is also apparent that the University may well be placing itself in a position to meet the challenges which I have held arguable. It is likely, on the evidence before me, to be in a position both to ensure that the Board has in digestible form the evaluations upon which the recommendations of the committee are based, curing the problem of over-delegation; and it is likely to be in a position to tell candidates, using the same evaluation format, the reasons for the judgement reached by the committee upon them.

 29. In this highly problematical situation it seems to me that the right course is to grant Dr Evans leave to move on the two grounds which I have identified but to stay all further proceedings (the University being de facto already on full notice of the application) with liberty to apply to lift the stay if a time comes at which good cause can be shown to the Court for doing so. Such cause is likely to be the conduct and completion of a further round of applications and appointments without curing what I have held to be the arguable deficiencies in the procedure.

 30. I am not willing even so to treat this as a reason for regarding the present application as premature, since the University has elected to contend that an application initiated at the end of the process comes too late. But there is no prayer for anticipatory relief such as would justify proceedings in the meantime. The prayer 'that the University further amend its promotions procedures' is too amorphous to found an argument. This is why a stay following the grant of leave, though an exceptional step, is in my view the one best calculated to protect all the disparate interests actually or potentially affected.

 31. I do not want this to be regarded as a sword of Damocles hung over the head of the University. It has every right to take its own course and to defend that course if the stay is then lifted. Equally it may wish, by continuing upon its changed course or by further modifying it, to put itself beyond such criticisms.

 32. Since the issue of placing a stay on the proceedings if leave were granted was not canvassed in argument before me, I have placed no formal limit on the earliest date on which an application to lift the stay may be made. This is to enable Dr Evans to argue, if she wishes, that the stay is unjust. I hope she will think long and hard before doing so.

22 August 1997

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Cambridge University Reporter, 22nd October 1997
Copyright © 1997 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.