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The court repeatedly held that it was irrational to not take into account the historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law on the part of the coalition while making the decision about granting the licenses (paras 35, 57-59, 62, 139, 144, 145, 153).
The court relied on (1977) that established the proposition that a public body has a duty to carry out a sufficient inquiry prior to making its decision.
This approach, albeit within a specific context, was taken by the Supreme Court’s in its decision in (2015), according to which a demand to base a decision on ‘reasonable grounds’ sets a higher hurdle than ‘mere rationality’ (paras 91, 129).
In other places in the judgment rationality was also equated with reasonableness.That, according to the court, made the decision-making process irrational and therefore illegal.The court invalidated the granting of the licenses – but allowed the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision, by taking into account the historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law on the part of the coalition.Article 2.2 compels Member States to deny a licence for the sale of military equipment to other states if there is a clear risk that this equipment might be used ‘in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law’.
In 2015 a coalition of nine states led by Saudi Arabia commenced military operations against the Houthis in Yemen.
This was done by classifying the grounds of judicial review to three main categories: ‘illegality’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘procedural impropriety’; and by clarifying that ‘irrationality’ is in fact identical to ‘ unreasonableness’.