Law Society issues warning against judicial review bill | Right

The Judicial Review Bill, to be released on Wednesday, should “sound alarm bells” for people trying to seek redress against the state in court, the Law Society said.

Details of the bill, released ahead of its full publication, which follows government rhetoric about the overreach of the judiciary, have sparked accusations that it will restrict the ability of individuals, including some of the most marginalized in the society, to challenge the decision-making processes of public bodies. .

While the Justice Department has arguably abandoned its most controversial proposal – increasing the use of exclusion clauses, which place government decisions beyond the reach of the courts – it has limited the scope of judicial review of another manner, which has raised concerns that it provides a template for future restrictions.

The bill ends the practice that parties to immigration and asylum cases who have been denied leave to appeal by both the lower court and the higher court can bring an appeal. Judicial review action in the High Court, known as Cart Judicial Reviews.

Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society, which represents lawyers in England and Wales, said: ‘There are a lot of things here that should raise alarm bells for people who come up against the power of the ‘State.

“The Department of Justice suggests that the bill could create a precedent for the government to give itself the power to remove certain types of cases from the scope of judicial review, which would effectively create a new kind of protection clause. eviction. There are rare exceptional circumstances in which it is appropriate for the state to circumvent the courts, and only with strong justification. Parliament will have to think very carefully about the potential impact of such proposals on the rule of law.”

The Justice Department said research showed Cart judicial reviews had a success rate of only about 3%, compared to a 40% to 50% success rate for all other cases, costing the taxpayer over £300,000 a year. But the source of the numbers is unclear.

The government-commissioned Judicial Review used a figure of 0.22% in the Cart cases, only to have the Statistics Regulatory Office say the figure could not be accurate and was ‘overly simplistic’. Some experts have suggested a figure closer to 7%.

Charlie Whelton, Liberty’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: ‘It appears that, based on flawed statistical reasoning, this bill proposes to remove a vital safeguard that protects marginalized people, especially migrants, mistakes made by public bodies that could have a catastrophic impact. on their life. »

The Justice Department said another feature of the bill would allow judges to determine what government action is illegal, without invalidating any previous action. He said it might help plaintiffs, but Boyce suggested it might mean they wouldn’t benefit from a successful challenge.

As interested parties await more details, Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said it was “foolish that the Justice Department was wasting resources attacking a vital process that is working well while the justice system is on the verge of collapse”.

Derek Sweeting QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said it was positive the government appeared to have ‘backed off from some of the more significant changes’, but stressed the system was working effectively.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC said: “The government is committed to ensuring that the courts are not open to abuse and delay. Today, we are delivering on that commitment. We are giving judges the powers they need to hold the government to account, while cracking down on those who seek to derail the judicial process.