Today JUSTICE joins charities and organisations from across the UK to condemn the Government’s proposed changes to judicial review. Organisations working for children, older people and bereaved families, with and for prisoners and accused people; expert in disability, mental health, torture and free speech, come together to highlight the constitutional significance of reforming judicial review.
Judicial review is a legal process by which individuals can challenge decisions made by public authorities on the basis that they are unlawful, irrational, unfair or disproportionate. It is a directly accessible check on abuse of power, a means of holding the executive to account, increasing transparency, and of providing redress when public agencies and central Government act unlawfully.
On Monday – 30 June 2014 – Peers will debate the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill for the first time. The effect of Part 4 of the Bill may be to suppress legitimate challenge; limit judges’ discretion to act in the public interest and shield public agencies from effective oversight. These proposals are not principally about the law or lawyers. They will affect decisions about the countryside, about schools, hospitals, our armed forces, police and security services; about housing, healthcare, education and transport. Ultimately these changes will affect how and whether Government will abide by the rules which Parliament sets.
Andrea Coomber, Director of JUSTICE said:
“Judicial review is one of the very few means we can challenge public bodies and Government departments which act unlawfully. We should all be watchdogs when the Government tries to rewrite the rules in its favour. Pressing ahead with these changes will shield Government – big and small – from scrutiny, will deprive individuals without means of an often much-needed remedy and will undermine the rule of law. MPs and Peers must act now. The ballot box should not be the only realistic remedy for unlawful public action.”
JUSTICE has prepared full, detailed briefing on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, available, here.