Cambridge University Reporter


Report of the Council on Statutes K, 5 (review) and K, 9 (delegation)

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows.

1. The present Report sets out proposals for minor amendments to Statute K, 5 (concerning the Vice-Chancellor's duty to deal with allegations that there has been a breach of the Statutes and Ordinances), and to Statute K, 9 (delegation to committees).

2. In an earlier Report (Reporter, 2000-01, p. 698) the Council raised the possibility that Statute K, 2 (application by the Council to the Chancellor for the determination of the meaning of a Statute) should be amended. After further consideration the Council have agreed not to propose any amendment of this Statute, which although little used in recent decades could represent a useful mechanism for resolving an identified ambiguity or other problem where resolution was urgently required and the alternative route of making or amending the Statute would lead to undue delay.

Statute K, 5

3. The proposal updates and amends Statute K, 5, by taking account of the recently established statutory review jurisdiction of the Commissary under Statute D, V. The proposal for Statute K, 5 would allow an application by a member of the University to the Vice-Chancellor for review of an alleged contravention of the Statutes and Ordinances. Provision is made for a longer time frame (three months) for the Vice-Chancellor to make a decision than at present (ten days), experience having shown that complicated applications require more time for consideration than the present Statute permits. New provision is explicitly made for an applicant who is dissatisfied with the Vice-Chancellor's decision to refer it to the Commissary, under the new statutory procedures. The Council believe that the safeguard which this right to review represents will mean that it is not necessary to keep the present statutory provision for appeal to the Chancellor by any 50 members of the Regent House, which would be in any case a difficult procedure to operate. The Council therefore propose repeal of that procedure and its replacement by review by the Commissary under Statute D, V.

4. In the Discussion of the 2001 Report (see above), held on 29 May 2001 (Reporter, 2000-01, p. 775) Professor A. W. F. Edwards made several points. These and other points have been considered by a Committee of the Council and their conclusions are the following:

(a) Statute K, 5 concerns a contravention of the Statutes or Ordinances in the doing of an act. It was suggested that an omission to act should also be capable of review under Statute K, 5. Provision has been made for such review.
(b) It has been questioned whether the Vice-Chancellor is the right officer to exercise the Statute K, 5 jurisdiction. If Statute K, 5 is to be regarded as a relatively swift administrative means of correcting breaches of the Statutes or Ordinances (which is believed to be an appropriate summary of the reason for its existence) the Vice-Chancellor is the right officer to exercise the responsibility. It has sometimes been suggested that the responsibility should be assigned to the Commissary, but this would be inconsistent with the Commissary's review duties under Statute D, V (which, the amended Statute K, 5 proposes, should be explicitly confirmed to include review of initial Statute K, 5 decisions).
(c) The present Statute K, 5 refers to breaches of the Statutes or Ordinances, but there are other provisions which may be broken, described as 'Orders' (that is Graces of the Regent House which do not enact Ordinances). Provision has been made to cover breaches of Orders in the revised Statute K, 5.
(d) It was suggested that provision should be made for applications to be made under Statute K, 5 later than the 30-day period after the action, so that there would be an opportunity to challenge if an action was not known at the time but became known later. One of the purposes of Statute K, 5 is to give confirmation and finality to actions within a finite period. Indefinite extension of the period would vitiate this. In the circumstance of late realization of an improper action, the appropriate course might be an application to the Commissary under Statute D, V, or reference to the appropriate central bodies (the Council, the General Board, or the Finance or Audit Committees, depending on the nature of the matter).

Statute K, 9

5. The present Statute K, 9 explicitly permits delegation by a University body constituted by Statute or Ordinance to a committee. It is arguable that the Statute permits delegation to individuals, who can be regarded as a committee of one. However, both the Council and the Board of Scrutiny believe that it would be more desirable for delegation to individuals to be specifically provided for. Amendment of Statute K, 9(b) is therefore proposed to confirm that University bodies may delegate functions, subject to appropriate safeguards, to individual University officers as well as to committees.


6. The Council therefore recommend:

That, subject to the approval of Her Majesty in Council, the Statutes of the University be amended as set out below, and that these amendments be submitted under the Common Seal of the University to Her Majesty in Council for approval:

Statute K, 5


Section 5.

By amending this section so as to read:

5. (a) If, within thirty days after the doing of any act by any person or body having power to act under the Statutes, or in the event of failure or omission to act as required by Statute, Ordinance, or Order within thirty days after the date specified for the performance of that act, it is represented in writing to the Vice-Chancellor by a member of the University that there has been a contravention of the Statutes, Ordinances, or any Order in the doing of such act, or in such failure or omission, the Vice-Chancellor shall inquire into the matter and shall declare either that there has been no such contravention, or that the said act or matter is of no effect, or, if the Vice-Chancellor is of the opinion that the contravention has not affected the result, that in his or her opinion the validity of the act or matter is not affected by the circumstances represented. Where the Vice-Chancellor finds that there has been a failure or omission to act he or she may give such directions in the matter as shall seem to him or her to be appropriate. The person making the representation shall state in writing the act or matter to which he or she refers, and with full detail of the contravention of Statute, Ordinance, or Order which he or she represents has taken place. The Vice-Chancellor shall give his or her decision promptly but in any event within three months, unless the person making the representation has agreed in writing to an extension of time.

(b) If the person making the representation is dissatisfied with the Vice-Chancellor's decision, or if he or she believes that there has been unreasonable delay, he or she may make a representation to the Commissary in the manner prescribed in Statute D, Chapter V. The decision of the Commissary shall be final. If there is no representation to the Commissary, the decision of the Vice-Chancellor shall be final.

(c) No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that there has been a contravention of the Statutes, Ordinances, or Order unless there has been a representation in writing under paragraph (a) of this Statute within thirty days after the doing thereof.

(d) No act shall be invalid by reason of the fact that any person taking part in the act, and chosen in the manner prescribed or authorized by the Statutes, Ordinances, or Order to be the person or a member of the body authorized to act, was not qualified to be so chosen.

Section 9(b):

In line 3 by adding after the words 'committee so appointed,' the words 'or to any University officer,' and in sub-paragraph (ii) by adding after the word 'committees' the words 'or persons'.