CHARITIES AND NGOS ASK MPs TO PRESERVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE YOUR COUNCIL TO COURT.
Today JUSTICE joins over 35 different charities and NGOs representing children and older people, people with disabilities, bereaved families and victims of torture; and organisations working on issues as diverse as housing, fair treatment at work and in healthcare, freedom of expression and privacy online come together to call on MPs to vote against significant restrictions to judicial review in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
On 1 Dec 2014 – Monday – the House of Commons will be asked to reinstate the Government’s original plans, with a minor amendment which will do little to temper a new and significant costs risk for charities and other organisations who offer their expertise to our courts in complex cases which affect the public interest.
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.
In a joint statement, a group, including Age UK, INQUEST, JUSTICE, Liberty, Mencap, Mind, the Howard League, the Child Poverty Action Group and Shelter, express concern that the effect of these proposals will be to deter legitimate challenge; limit judges’ discretion to act in the public interest and shield public agencies from effective oversight.
Andrea Coomber, Director, 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.
Changes made in the House of Lords would leave the Government’s reforms intact, but preserve the discretion of the court to do justice in the public interest in individual cases.
Government – big or small – will be the defendant these claims and the greatest beneficiary of any changes. When a council or a hospital gets the law wrong the only option for normal people should not be the local MP’s constituency office. ”
Read the full press release here.
Read the joint NGO statement here.
Read JUSTICE’s briefing on the Government’s proposed amendments on interveners’ costs.