Koziol v Davies (2004)


A petition for the grant of a new supplemental charter had been validly submitted to the Privy Council by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.


The defendants (D) applied for summary judgment. The parties were members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (the society), which was established by Royal Charter with various supplemental charters being granted subsequently. The council, the society's governing body, appointed a steering group that recommended that the society should seek to obtain a new constitution. The council by a majority of 16 to 5 resolved to petition the Privy Council for the grant of a new supplemental charter. Such petition was submitted. The claimants (K) opposed the grant of a new charter and sought a declaration that the petition was invalid and an injunction restraining the pursuit of it. D were the 16 members of the society who voted in favour of the petition and the society itself. K claimed that (1) the 1953 charter contained a power of alteration, amendment or addition and that that power could have been used to bring the proposed new charter, or at least the contents of it, into being, and that therefore the Society could no longer proceed by petition to the crown for a new supplemental charter; (2) If the Society could still petition Her Majesty for a new charter at all, it could not do that acting by the Council but could only act by its member; (3) it was outside the power of the Council to change the whole nature of the society, and thereby for the Council to act in a way which was contrary to the charter from which it derived its authority.


(1) K's first contention had to be rejected. It would be bizarre if Her Majesty, by granting the 1953 charter, had thereby substantially curtailed her power to entertain petitions in future in the excercise of the royal prerogative. (2) This argument was formalistic and unreal. There was no absolute rule about who could apply for a charter on behalf of any particular body; it all depended on the constitutional documents and structure of the body concerned. Under the constitutional documents and structure of the Society it was the Council which had the authority to petition for the new charter. (3) The application would be allowed. The issues raised were issues of law that could be determined without a trial. The submission of the petition, which was made on the basis of a resolution of the council that was carried by a 16 to 5 majority, was lawfully made. The society acting by the council was lawfully entitled to pursue the petition under its existing charter. K had no real prospect of succeeding on their claim.

Application granted.

Chancery Division
Park J

LTL 21/5/2004 : [2004] EWHC 1254 (Ch)