To Assist the Court: Third Party Interventions in the Public Interest

It is an old saying that there are at least two sides to every case.  A question for the courts is what happens when there are more than two?

Over the past four decades, in a range of legally and constitutionally significant matters – from the treatment of children in detention to the jurisdiction of our courts over the scope and application of human rights standards – charities and not-for-profit organisations have been able to bring a wealth of experience to bear to help inform crucial judgments, putting before our courts material not within the reach of the parties, or otherwise unlikely to be produced in the ordinary adversarial process.

JUSTICE was one of the first UK organisations to be granted permission to intervene in the domestic courts and remains one of the statistically most frequent interveners before the Supreme Court.

After the introduction of new costs rules on intervention in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, concerns have been raised about a chilling effect on the ability of interveners without deep pockets to continue to offer to assist the court in this way.

In outlining good practice in the UK and in Europe, the Guide hopes to inform the development of future good practice on third party interventions; and to an extent, limit the potentially chilling effects of the new reforms in England and Wales:

  • Part A sets out some of the key challenges for NGOs and others considering pursuing a public interest intervention.  It is designed primarily for use by staff and Board members at organisations thinking about an intervention;
  • Part B outlines the procedures for intervention before a number of key courts and tribunals in the UK and in Europe. It is designed principally for use by lawyers preparing advice for would-be interveners;
  • Part C considers some key challenges and recommends some improvements for future practice. It reiterates the need for greater legal certainty and the benefits created by clear rules supported by tailored practice directions for interveners.


JUSTICE and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP


22 June 2016

Download a copy of To Assist the Court.

You can access a database of JUSTICE’s own interventions, here.