Civil Litigation

All You Need To Know About Judicial Review

One of the reasons the legal system in the UK is so highly regarded is that we have a clear separation of powers between the three functions of the Government; the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

The separation of powers enables the Judiciary to examine decisions made by the Government (Executive) via a process called Judicial Review.

What does Judicial Review allow the Judiciary to do?

Judicial review is a process by which the courts exercise a supervisory jurisdiction over the exercise of public functions by public bodies.  The courts are not concerned with the merits of the public bodies decision, only its legitimacy.

What are the grounds for Judicial Review?

The classic grounds for judicial review are illegality, irrationality and procedural unfairness. However, it has been said that the key purpose of judicial review is to prevent the abuse or misuse of public power, and, as such, the grounds upon which a claim may be brought continue to expand.  For example, Judicial Review can now be brought on the grounds of proportionality and failure to take into account all material considerations.

Are there specific remedies for Judicial Review?

The main remedies for Judicial Review include:

  • a mandatory order, which requires the defendant to do something
  • a prohibiting order, which prevents the defendant from doing something
  • a quashing order, which renders ineffective something the defendant has done 
  • an injunction or stay, which is usually an interim remedy preventing the public body from acting on the decision under challenge
  • a declaration
  • damages, restitution or the recovery of a sum due, but not as the sole remedy and only if damages would have been available in a private law claim

Can I bring a claim for Judicial Review straight away?

No, Judicial Review is a 'remedy of last resort'. Accordingly, the Court will not normally entertain a claim for judicial review if there is a 'suitable alternative remedy' available to the claimant.

Who can bring a Judicial Review claim?

A claim can be brought by anyone who has 'a sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates'.  The test is applied in a liberal manner, as its main purpose is to prevent public bodies from being troubled by mere busybodies.

Whether or not a person has a sufficient interest to bring the claim depends on all the circumstances and is considered within the full legal and factual context of the matter, but the key question is the degree of connection between the matter in dispute and the interests of the individual in question. However, if there is a wider public interest in the claim, the courts are more likely to take a generous approach, particularly if there may be no other person able or available to bring a claim.

What are the main disadvantages of Judicial Review?

The number one disadvantage of a Judicial Review is that it is expensive.  A claimant must first make an application for permission to proceed with a Judicial Review and only if this is accepted can the case be brought before the court.  Due to the expertise needed and the planning and preparation involved, a Judicial Review can incur enormous sums in legal fees for the claimant.

If you would like to speak to a solicitor about making a claim in judicial review, you can search for a specialist in your area on our website.

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