The Review of Judicial Review: Call for Evidence
The Independent Review of Administrative Law Panel (the Panel) recently issued a Call for Evidence on how effectively "judicial review balances the legitimate interest in citizens being able to challenge the lawfulness of executive action with the role of the executive carrying on the business of government, both locally and centrally."
The Panel is made up of selected public law experts and was set up by the Government following its manifesto pledge to ensure the judicial review process is not "open to abuse and delay".
The Call for Evidence takes a form of a questionnaire and invites comments from those who have direct experience in judicial review cases and also asks specific questions of individuals working in Government Departments.
For those in the Government, the Panel is asking interesting questions including whether judicial reviews"seriously impede[s] the proper or effective discharge of central or local government functions" and the extent to which the prospect of being judicially reviewed improves a civil servant's decision making abilities. For others, the Panel is interested in arguments about the codification of the rules of judicial review and their general experiences of the existing judicial review process. The Panel also invites comments on a number of longstanding judicial review concepts and procedural points, including: the burden of disclosure, the duty of candour, the law of standing and the short time limits in which a claimant has to bring their claim.
The Call for Evidence asks wide-ranging questions about the nature, scope and effect of judicial review claims that suggests that real change is being given serious thought. Whilst the ability to challenge the decisions of those in the highest office has been in the public eye after a number of recent high profile cases, the judicial review system acts as an important check on decisions of all bodies exercising public functions. Rules that are changed with the intention of limiting challenges (to promote the "need for effective and efficient government") may also operate to restrict the ability of an interested party in challenging local decisions on specific issues that affect their personal or commercial interests. Further, the Panel have highlighted how potential changes would modify substantive law so as to affect all cases involving public law decision making: applying, in the housing realm, for example, to a situation whereby a tenant was raising as a defence in private law the illegality of a rent increase by a council. These reforms will be of interest to public bodies themselves (and those who work within them) and any organisation that deals with bodies that exercise public functions – most, if not all, of us.
Specific responses to the questions raised by the Panel must be submitted by 19 October 2020 to firstname.lastname@example.org