Judicial review is an application made to the Administrative Court (part of the High Court) to challenge the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body.
The procedure governing judicial review cases is set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
An application for judicial review is an application to the High Court for one or more of the following forms of relief: a mandatory, prohibiting or quashing order, a declaration or an injunction. It can also include a claim for damages (compensation).
In every judicial review case, it will be necessary to identify the source of the public body’s authority to act in the way that it has acted.
In English law there are a number of types of law that may give public bodies the authority to act in a certain way.
Primary legislation, ie an act of Parliament
Secondary legislation, such as regulations or directions
Common law, meaning the rules that the courts have developed over time
Human rights law.
It is important to understand the difference between law and guidance.
Put simply, guidance is produced to tell a body how it should act, unless there are good reasons for not acting in that way. This can be contrasted with law, which dictates how a body must act.
This means that there will be circumstances where a body can lawfully say that it has decided not to follow guidance for a good reason, but it can never say that it has decided not to follow the law, good reason or not.
Judicial review is described as a remedy of last resort. That means that the court will require every judicial review claimant to show that there is no suitable alternative (ie non-judicial review) remedy that might give the claimant what he or she wants.
In every case, detailed consideration should be given to the suitability of any alternative remedy and whether it may provide the claimant with an acceptable outcome on the facts of the case.
A claim for judicial review must identify the decision, act or omission to be challenged.
Claims must be filed promptly and not later than 3 months after the grounds to make the claim first arose.
We have extensive experience of successful challenges to decisions of the Parole Board and the Secretary of State for Justice (who is usually the defendant in claims against the Prison Service and Probation Service).
Legal Aid is available subject to an assessment of means (financial) and merits (prospects of success).
Please contact us if you think you may have grounds for a judicial review claim.