JUSTICE welcomes critical JCHR Report
In a Report published today, Joint Committee on Human Rights (“JCHR”) – an influential cross-party Committee of MPs and Peers – concludes that the Government’s proposals to reform judicial review and limit legal aid for public law challenges are incompatible with access to justice and endanger the rule of law.
The Report emphasises the important constitutional function of judicial review and concludes that the Government case for reform is not made.
The Committee highlights efforts by the Lord Chancellor to cast judicial review as an abused political tool. The Committee rejects this premise entirely, together with the Government claim that judicial review claims have grown massively. Statistics show that ordinary judicial review numbers have remained broadly static.
JUSTICE welcomes the robust conclusions of the JCHR. We consider that the latest package of reforms – found in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and the latest civil legal aid regulations – are ill-evidenced and unnecessary.
We regret that the changes to legal aid for judicial review – in force since 22 April 2014 – will render administrative justice out of bounds for all but those with deep pockets. Other changes would restrict the discretion of domestic courts to protect claimants from deterrent costs in public interest litigation.