Judicial Review is the process by which judges examine the decisions of public bodies and consider whether the law has been correctly followed. It is important to stress that a judicial review is not a re-run on the merits of the decision. Judges confine themselves to considering whether the decision being challenged was lawful, and complies with the principles of public law.
If a Judicial Review claim is successful the usual result is that the decision is “quashed” or nullified and has to be taken again. While this means that the public body can take exactly the same decision again, the need to follow proper procedure means that, in practice, at least a better – and often a substantively different – decision results.
Judicial Review can be an expensive and time-consuming process but it is often the last mechanism people have for checking the abuse of power within Government and public bodies. It is therefore crucial for upholding the rule of law.
The decisions, acts, and failures to act by public bodies exercising public functions are all potentially challengeable by judicial review. In an environmental context, such bodies may include government ministers, local authorities, Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.
Judicial reviews can be sought on the grounds that a decision is:
- illegal – arises when a decision-maker misdirects itself in law, exercises a power wrongly, or improperly purports to exercise a power that it does not have, which is known as acting ‘ultra vires’;
- irrational – a decision may be challenged as unreasonable if it “is so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it”;
- procedurally improper – a failure to observe statutory procedures or natural justice; or
- in breach of legitimate expectation, either procedural or substantive) – when a public body is, by its own statements or acts, required to respond in a particular way but fails to do so. There cannot, however, be any expectation that the body will act unfairly or beyond its powers and the need to observe expectations must not fetter the public authority.
The question of remedies is often critical in judicial review proceedings, as it may determine not only whether it is worthwhile bringing a claim, but also whether permission will be granted to bring the claim.
One or more of six forms of final relief are available, and all are discretionary.
- an order quashing the decision in question (quashing order);
- an order restraining the body under review from acting beyond its powers (prohibitory order) – this is rare as an injunction will usually suffice;
- an order requiring the body under review to carry out its legal duties (mandatory order);
- a declaration;
- a stay or injunction;
We have vast experience in Judicial Review proceedings, especially where clients have been subject to a local council decision in the local government sector. Our experience also extends to decisions made by HMRC, where we can act quickly in seeking immediate injunctive relief.
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What our clients say...
Thank you for the time and effort you have put in to this – it was important to me to get some form of acknowledgement of what was due.
Mr A. Norwich
I think the congratulations should go to you because without your help and guidance I’m not sure that I would have got this far. I was very happy with the result and it definitely allowed me to enjoy my weekend.
Once again thanks for all your great help and support in reaching a satisfactory conclusion.
Again – deep appreciation of your help!
V & N / Norfolk
Thank you very much indeed for your efforts on my behalf at the Court yesterday. You did an excellent job and I am very grateful. The court order that you obtained at very short notice is a source of considerable relief to me.
When dealing with serious issues involving HMRC it is crucial to take legal advice as soon as possible. Peter Hastings vast experience of handing tax investigations and disputes proved invaluable at a very difficult time. With his support and expertise we achieved the best possible outcome.
I’m really grateful for the help, support and guidance that Peter gave me throughout the High Court defamation claim, his tenacity and focus meant that I secured a successful outcome quickly and removed the stress and costs that would have been involved.
Excellent result – I recommend you anytime !!
Thank you for all your assistance and advice this year on what proved to my eyes a difficult case. Mrs J and I are so relieved above all to get our lives back and we are looking forward to a happy Christmas.
Just a quick e-mail to say how much we appreciate all the hard work you put in on our behalf over the past 10 months on our complicated case, including your help with the Bank and dealing with our opponent. Your efforts were brilliant. I would have caved in if not for you. We are very pleased with the result.
If we ever have need for a solicitor, we will definitely use yourself/Rogers and Norton and recommend you.
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You have done an amazing job thank you so much.
Mrs C. Norwich
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I was very pleased with the excellent letter and service you provided for me and will not hesitate to come back should I need to.
Mrs P. / Norfolk