What Is Judicial Review?

The Welsh Government has just announced that it has issued formal proceedings seeking a declaration from the Court on the scope of the controversial, Brexit-related, United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020.

The Welsh Government has issued proceedings for a judicial review as it argues that the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 limits the scope of the devolved powers of the Senedd and Welsh Government and confers the UK Government power to further limit these powers by further legislation.

If you recently read about this in the news, you may be wondering ‘What is judicial review?’. Our dispute resolution team discuss the unique procedure below:

What Is Judicial Review?

Judicial review is a type of court proceeding whereby a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

In a judicial review case, the Court will conduct a review of the process by which a public body has reached a decision and will assess whether that decision was validly made.

Who Can Bring A Judicial Review Claim?

Any party who has sufficient interest in an issue may bring a claim.

There are a number of factors that the Court will consider when determining if a party has a ‘sufficient interest’ including the importance of maintaining the rule of law and the extent to which that party is affected by the decision.

When/Where To Bring A Judicial Review Claim?

There are strict time limits for bringing judicial review claims as a party must act promptly and in any event within three months from the date on which the grounds for the claim first arose to file their claim. In some circumstances even shorter time limits may apply so it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Judicial review claims must be issued in a specialist court known as the Administrative Court. The Administrative Court is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but there are also Administrative Court centres in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.

Which Decisions Can Be Judicially Reviewed?

The decisions of public bodies and other bodies exercising public law functions can be challenged by judicial review. These include the decisions of government ministers, departments, industry regulators, and local authorities

Grounds for a judicial review claim generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Illegality: a decision maker has exercised power incorrectly or made a decision that lies outside of its powers;
  • Irrationality: a decision is ‘so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could have come to it’ or where irrelevant factors have been considered/relevant factors ignored;
  • Procedural Unfairness: a decision maker has not properly followed statutory procedures or has not followed the principles of ‘natural justice’ such as showing bias or failing to hear an affected party; and / or
  • Legitimate expectation: an affected party may have had an expectation that a public body was going to act in a certain way, and they have not done so.

What remedies are available? The Court has the discretion to award a remedy that it sees fit. Remedies can include, for example, a declaration, the quashing of the original decision, the granting of an injunction to prevent a decision-maker from making a decision or in certain limited circumstances, the award of damages

If you have any questions about judicial review, please get in touch with our specialist Commercial Dispute Resolution team who would be happy to help.

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