Provide that public authorities and public servants shall not be subject to any
criminal or civil penalty as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in
the performance of their functions; and for connected purposes.
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
Protection from penalties: public authorities
A public authority or its servants or agents shall not be subject to any criminal
liability and shall be indemnified from any action for breach of statutory duty,
malfeasance or negligence in respect of any action taken (or intentionally not
taken) in good faith as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the
public interest (but this is not to be construed as offering protection against any
action of gross negligence or recklessness).
Protection from penalties: public servants
Any servant, agent or person acting on behalf of a public authority shall not be
subject to any criminal liability and shall be indemnified from any action for
breach of statutory duty, malfeasance or negligence in respect of any action
taken (or intentionally not taken) in good faith as a result of the exercise of
reasonable discretion, provided that the action was taken (or not taken) in the
public interest, and did not amount to gross negligence or recklessness.
A public authority may not dismiss an employee or subject an employee to
disciplinary proceedings solely as a consequence of circumstances in which
that employee acted (or intentionally did not act) in good faith by exercising
reasonable discretion in the public interest, unless the action (or failure to act)
amounted to gross negligence or recklessness.
Contracts for public services
No action may be brought by any party to a contract for the supply of services
to a public authority for any breach of that contract in relation to any act done
(or intentionally not done) by a party to the contract if that act was done (or not
done) in good faith as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the
public interest, provided that the action done (or not done) did not amount to
a fundamental breach of that contract.
any government department or agency;
any non-departmental public body;
any body or agency of the devolved administrations in Wales
any local authority, as defined by section 1 of the Local
Government Act 2000 (c. 22);
any body designated as part of the National Health Service;
any police authority;
any of the above acting together;
“servants or agents” of a public authority includes any person acting
under a contract for the supply of services to that authority in respect
of the delivery of those services.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as disapplying any provision of the
Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42).
Short title, commencement and extent
This Act may be cited as the Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Act 2009.
This Act comes into force on the second day of December 2009.
This Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.