R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex p Bugdaycay [1987] AC 514



The Pakistani government issued a decree introducing new and additional discrimination against members of the sect to which the claimants belonged. Shortly after this, the claimants arrived In the United Kingdom claiming political asylum, on the basis of the steps taken by the Pakistani government. The Secretary of State for the Home Department refused their applications on the basis that he considered they did not in fact face persecution if they were returned to Pakistan, nor did they have a well founded fear that they would do so as required by international asylum law. The claimants applied for judicial review of the Secretary of State's decision.


The issues were: firstly, the scope of the court's jurisdiction to review the decision made by the Secretary of State; secondly, whether the decision itself was substantively unsound.


The House of Lords held that although it was for the Secretary of State to determine whether, on the facts of the specific case, the applicants faced a risk of persecution if they were returned to Pakistan, or had a well founded fear of this, the Court had jurisdiction to review this decision on the grounds of Wednesbury unreasonableness. This standard of review required that the decision must be ‘perverse’ or else so unreasonable that no reasonable decision maker could support it in order to warrant the intervention of the court. In this case, there was no such unreasonableness and the Secretary of State had not erred in his approach to the decision.