An overview of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill
The Judicial Review and Courts Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced to parliament on 21 July 2021. The Government’s press release states that the Bill will ‘equip judges with the tools to give more tailored solutions in judicial review cases’. The Bill is intended to ‘create a better balance between the rights of citizens to challenge decisions through judicial review and the need for an effective government’.
Following a public consultation, the new Bill will:
— Allow the courts to delay the time it takes for orders to come into force, allowing parties time to prepare.
— Reduce the impact on third parties who have relied on a power that the courts deem unlawful.
— — Remove ‘Cart’ judicial reviews, subject to limited exceptions. A cart judicial review is a challenge against a decision made by the Upper Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber to refuse permission to challenge the First-Tier-Tribunal decision, in circumstances where there is no further right of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
— Introduce several procedural measures across the criminal courts, employment tribunals and coroner’s courts, intended to ‘streamline processes, saving time and money for the court system, and supporting court recovery’.
The Bill includes provisions for quashing orders (an order nullifying a decision which has been made by a public body, making the decision completely invalid) to be made subject to conditions, in particular:
1. Suspending the effects of a quashing order – meaning judges can delay the point at which Government actions can be overturned. This is intended to improve public policy, for example, allowing time for a department to consult on the best way to replace an administrative regime, rather than rushing to do it immediately.
2. Limiting or removing the retrospective effect of quashing orders – meaning judges can determine that the Government’s action was unlawful, without invalidating any prior action. This is intended to ‘enhance good administration, with public resources spent making a regulatory regime work rather than focussing on retrospective compliance’.
Since the Bill has been published, a coalition of more than 220 organisations (including the Law Society) has attacked the proposed changes as a ‘threat to freedom and justice’. Supporters of the coalition have described judicial reviews as a ‘vital means by which ordinary people can hold a state which acts unlawfully to account.’
The Bill is awaiting a second reading on a date to be announced, likely to be in the Autumn. We will keep you updated.
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