In Leicester Gaming Club Limited v The Gambling Commission  EWHC 531 (Admin), Leicester Gaming Club Limited (“Leicester) applied for and was granted a certificate of consent by the Gambling Commission. However, due to an error made by the Gambling Commission’s solicitor, the application for a casino licence was not made by the stipulated date. Leicester’s request to the Commission, to extend the time, was rejected, hence this application. At the hearing, Leicester contended that because the law gives the Commission broad discretion to determine the time within which the licence application was to be made, the Commission had implied powers to extend the time for the making of the application, provided that a good reason was given. The Commission, however, maintained that it did not have such powers. It argued that it could only exercise such powers to correct an internal error.
The Court, applying the decision of the House of Lords in A-G The Great Eastern Railway Company (1880) 5 App Cas 473, held that the test to be used in determining whether the alleged implied power existed was by deciding whether the alleged implied power was properly and reasonably incidental to the relevant express power. The Court agreed with Leicester that the broad discretion granted by the law to the Commission to specify the time within which a licence application should be made, was consistent with an implied power to change that time. The Court further ruled that there was no reason for Parliament to deny the Commission power to alter the timescale, in circumstances it considers appropriate, and that this matter was one which was appropriate. The implied power to extend the time limit was properly and reasonably to be regarded as incidental to an express power to fix such a time limit.
The Court applied the rule of statutory interpretation in deciding that implying the power of the Commission to extend the time would be consistent with reasonableness and fairness whereas absence of the implied power would promote rigidity and could result in unwanted consequences.
This case is a good recent authority for determining the issue of implied powers granted by law. It is also a good authority for the application of the rule that statutory interpretation should be such as to avoid administrative rigidities and should, where appropriate, be flexible.