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Judicial Review

Bankside Law has a dedicated team for Judicial Review claims. Judicial Review is a term used for the procedure by which the courts can review the decision of a public body. In short, the court will look at whether the decision was made fairly, rationally and within the decision-makers powers.

There are three heads under which a claim for Judicial Review can be made:

  • Illegality Decision-makers must understand the law that regulates them. If they fail to follow the law properly, their decision, action or failure to act will be “illegal”. Thus, an action or decision may be illegal on the basis that the public body has no power to take that action or decision, or has acted beyond its powers.
  • Irrationality/Proportionality  The courts may intervene if they consider it to be so demonstrably unreasonable as to constitute ‘irrationality’ or ‘perversity’ on the part of the decision maker. The benchmark decision on this principle of judicial review was made as long ago as 1948, in the Wednesbury case: "If a decision on a competent matter is so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it, then the courts can interfere... but to prove a case of that kind would require something overwhelming...” Lord Greene Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223, HL. This threshold is extremely difficult to meet, which is why the Wednesbury ground is usually argued alongside other grounds, rather than on its own. The onus is also on the claimant to establish irrationality or perversity.
  • Unfairness Fairness demands that a public body should never act so unfairly that it amounts to an abuse of power. This means that if there are express procedures laid down by legislation that the public body must follow in order to reach a decision, it must follow them. It must not breach the rules of natural justice. One of the key issues here is the rule against bias, which requires the public body to be impartial and to be seen to be so. For example, the public body must not allow decisions to be made by people who have strongly held views which may cause them to reach a decision based on prejudice, nor allow decisions to be made by people who have a financial interest in the decision.

Judicial Review can be costly; therefore, it is important that you have thoroughly considered your chances of success before embarking on any claim. There are some pre-action steps which must be carried out before issuing a claim which, if done properly, could save you a great deal of time, money and effort. Members of our team have extensive experience in Judicial Review claims, particularly in relation to healthcare regulation, and can provide thorough and pragmatic advice and guidance throughout each stage of the proceedings, including representation at a full hearing. If you would like to discuss a potential Judicial Review call John Williams on 0207 407 2356 for a free initial telephone discussion.