What has judicial review ever done for us?

What has judicial review ever done for us?

Published on 16 Oct 2020

What has judicial review ever done for us?

Apart from helping students across the country have their “unfair” computer-calculated grades scrapped this summer? Or being used by covid health workers to challenge the government over PPE shortages? Helping Gurkha veterans, who have been part of the British Army for centuries, challenge a policy which denied them settlement in the UK? Apart from those incredibly important things, what has it ever done for us? And actually, what even is it?

Well, to stop you switching off every time we use the yawn inducing phrase ‘Judicial Review’ let’s start calling it JR. JR is a kind of court case where a “claimant” challenges the lawfulness of a decision of a government body. Public bodies include councils, government departments and police forces. Cases are born at home, with ordinary people questioning public bodies’ decisions. They start by taking their cae to the High Court, but can go all the way to the Supreme Court if anyone involved decides to appeal the lower courts’ decisions. Previous decisions of the European Court of Human Rights may be considered when human rights issues are raised. Those involved in the dispute will make their arguments in court, and who wins is ultimately decided by the judge, or judges. If the claimant wins, the government’s decision is declared “unlawful,” or “quashed” .

Now, judges CAN’T just quash a decision willy nilly because they personally feel it’s wrong. But they CAN overturn decisions if they breach our human rights, which have been tainted by bias, or which were made without proper legal authority. Generally judges cannot quash laws that have been passed by Parliament

Okay so Judicial Review is pretty great! But, rather worryingly, everything we’ve just said could be about change…

The Prime Minister and Justice Secretary have set up a panel of experts tasked with examining the need “for potential reforms to judicial review”. It may not come as a surprise to you, but the government does not appear to enjoy having its decisions challenged by ordinary people. It’s feared the government wants to weaken, rather than strengthen JR, as a means through which citizens can hold it to account. The government also claims that JRs have been excessively, causing policy delays But applications for judicial review fell by 44% between 2015 and the end of September 2019.

At the end of the day, judicial review is simply a legal process that keeps us safe from the decisions, actions and failures of public bodies. So let’s keep an eye on the government’s ‘review’ of judicial review, shall we?

Read this for EVEN more info: https://eachother.org.uk/what-has-judicial-review-ever-done-for-us


EachOther is a UK-focused charity that uses independent journalism, story-telling and film-making to put the human into human rights. The digital content we produce is grounded in the lived experience of ordinary people affected by human rights issues. We involve them in the process of developing their stories, rather than talking for or over them. Theirs are the voices we platform and amplify to our lay audience of over a million viewers each year. In this way, we hope to grow public support for human rights here in the UK.

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