Datafin to Virgin Killer: Self-Regulation and Public Law

Norwich Law School Working Paper No. NLSWP 09/02

22 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2009 Last revised: 14 Apr 2009

See all articles by Daithi Mac Sithigh

Daithi Mac Sithigh

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law

Date Written: April 8, 2009


In this paper, the treatment of self-regulatory and other private bodies for the purposes of English public law is reviewed. Starting with the expansion of the scope of judicial review of administrative action in Datafin, the question is explored alongside other key aspects of public law, with an argument being advanced that there are in fact multiple definitions of public authorities and public function currently used for a range of purposes. Datafin is compared with the case law under section 6 of the Human Rights Act, including YL. Particular attention is paid to the less familiar areas of the law where specific statutes require public authorities to carry out duties, uch as legislation pertaining to freedom of information and equality rights. It is argued that, while the definitions and lists used in the case of these statutes draw upon the experiences of the courts in applying Datafin and section 6, there are significant gaps in accountability and scrutiny that should be addressed. Finally, the question of new forms of self- and co-regulation in relation to new media are summarised, and it is concluded that further clarity on the scope of public law, including statutory schemes, is required, and that actions taken thus far in Parliament have not addressed this problem in an adequate fashion.

Keywords: judicial review, administrative law, Human Rights Act, self-regulation, co-regulation, Datafin, Wikipedia, freedom of information

Suggested Citation

Mac Sithigh, Daithi, Datafin to Virgin Killer: Self-Regulation and Public Law (April 8, 2009). Norwich Law School Working Paper No. NLSWP 09/02 , Available at SSRN: or

Daithi Mac Sithigh (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN

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