Case questions City election procedures

THE COURT victory of elected City of London alderman Malcolm Matson has been heralded a landmark decision by his solicitor.

Michael Smyth was speaking after the High Court ruled that the City's Court of Aldermen must explain its decision not to confirm Matson's appointment.

Matson had been elected alderman for the Bread Street ward last year but was effectively “blackballed” by the panel under a mediaeval appointment system.

Smyth, a Clifford Chance partner, said: “It will be some time before the full impact of the decision becomes clear. At the very least, it would appear to change forever the mechanics for electing aldermen.

“The case would seem to be a further significant acknowledgement by the judiciary of the developing duty to give reasons in English administrative law.”

Matson won the election by 54 votes to 15, after being nominated by a partner at Allen & Overy.

Another partner at Allen & Overy, City of London Lord Mayor Sir Christopher Walford, presided over the meeting which vetoed the appointment.

Matson claimed the decision was “irrational”. The three appeal judges ruled that the aldermen had acted unlawfully in not giving reasons.

Smyth added: “The judges were very clear that hearings to confirm the election of aldermen were not the same as job interviews and that the legal regime affecting them was quite different.”