Why is Judicial Review important?
If you’re not a lawyer, the term “Judicial Review” may sound a little legalistic; even stuffy. You’d be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t possibly affect you.
But in reality it’s a crucial tool which allows ordinary people to challenge decisions by the authorities – either because they’re unlawful, irrational, or made in the wrong way. It’s a vital check on power, offering hope of justice to people when Government and public agencies behave outside the law.
The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, however, has loaded the dice firmly back in favour of the State and restricted access to Judicial Review.
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Tell me more about Judicial Review
The House of Lords inflicted a number of defeats on the Government over Judicial Review - twice sending the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill back to the House of Commons.
But eventually Peers avoided constitutional gridlock and accepted some Government concessions on Judicial Review, as well as Secure Colleges (a new scheme for a titan prison for children).
Thanks to the efforts of Peers, parliamentary committees and professionals from various backgrounds over the last year, the legislation is an undeniable improvement on that which was first presented by the Government.
However, its passage raised profound constitutional questions - and it will be for the Courts in future to work out whether they can uphold access to justice and the Rule of Law despte the undemocratic way in which the Government has made it that bit harder to challenge Executive decision-making.