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Read the following scenario and then answer the questions which follow.

The UK experiences several months of unprecedented storms which, combined with a series of unusually high tides, cause severe flooding in low-lying coastal areas. In some areas the flooding is on a scale never seen before, extending several miles inland and threatening towns and cities which had always been regarded as safe from coastal flooding. The government’s scientific advisors officially designate this as a “1 in 500 years” event.

During the crisis the government, acting under the Royal Prerogative, seizes a number of areas of land which it has decided are necessary for the construction of emergency flood barriers which are needed to protect particular towns and cities which are currently undefended. Owing to the urgency of the situation, the government informs the landowners in question that issues of compensation will not be addressed immediately, but that all landowners affected will in due course  be able to submit a compensation claim to a tribunal which will be established solely for this purpose.

When the crisis has eased, the government therefore secures the passage through Parliament of the Flood Compensation Act (FCA), which establishes the Flood Compensation Tribunal (FCT). Section 1 of the FCA contains the following provisions:

S.1 (1): “The FCT shall have sole jurisdiction to receive and adjudicate upon compensation claims arising from the seizure of land for the construction of flood defences.”

S.1 (2): “Decisions of the FCT, including decisions as to its jurisdiction, are final and conclusive and may not questioned in any court of law.”

S.1 (3): “When considering claims for compensation under this section, the FCT may follow whatever process it deems appropriate.”

Faced with a large number of potential cases, the FCT decides that it will deal with all claims by written submission, but that individual applicants may request a personal hearing and that any such request will be judged on its merits.

Helen is one of the landowners whose land was seized by the government. She submits a detailed written claim to the FCT, providing all of the information requested. For many years Helen has suffered particularly badly with mental health issues, and she feels that the written details do not fully convey the impact which the loss of her land has had on her wellbeing. She therefore asks to be allowed to appear in person before the FCT in order to emphasise this, and receives the following written response from the FCT:

“We can assure you that all payments to successful applicants are calculated to recognise not just the financial but also the personal impact of the measures taken. We do not therefore believe that a personal hearing in respect of this issue would serve any useful purpose.”

Helen’s claim is subsequently successful, but she believes that the amount awarded would have been much greater had she been allowed to appear in person before the FCT.

Giles is the owner of farmland on the outskirts of Melchester, a small town 10 miles from the coast which has never before been affected by coastal flooding. Although his land was seized by the government under the Royal Prerogative, no flood barriers have been constructed on it as yet because the crisis had begun to ease before work had started. The government, however, has informed Giles that it still plans to proceed with the erection of the barriers as they may be needed in future. Giles believes that this conclusion is unreasonable, because if the barriers weren’t required for a “1 in 500 years” event they are unlikely to be needed in the foreseeable future.  Rather than claim compensation, he therefore wishes to seek judicial review of the government’s decision to seize his property.

                Following criticism of its use of the Royal Prerogative to seize land for flood defences, the government also secures the passage through Parliament of the Emergency Flood Defences Act (EFDA). This Act contains a new statutory scheme and procedure for the provision of emergency flood defences. The Act makes no mention of the Royal Prerogative, but the Prime Minister explains in Parliament that “it won’t replace the Royal Prerogative but will operate alongside it.”        


  1. Does section 1(2) of the Flood Compensation Act prevent Helen from seeking judicial review of the decision of the Flood Compensation Tribunal?
  • Under the principles of Natural Justice, is it acceptable for the Flood Compensation Tribunal to deny Helen a personal hearing for the reason given?
  • Is the government’s decision to seize Giles’s property subject to judicial review?
  • Is the statement of the Prime Minister in the last paragraph above an accurate reflection of the legal position in circumstances such as these?

All questions carry equal weight. You should therefore spend roughly the same amount of time on each question, but please note that this does not mean that you need to write precisely the same amount of words on each question.

In answering the questions above, you should clearly and accurately:

  • Summarise and explain the legal position as it applies to the scenario, indicating the authorities on which it is based and pointing out any areas of uncertainty or ambiguity.
  • Highlight, where relevant, any outstanding issues, questions, etc, summarising their significance.   
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