Rule of law

Do not knock down a pillar of our democracy – warns Law Society

‘Do not undermine a key route to challenging decisions by public bodies’ was the message from solicitors’ leaders to ministers and to the Independent Review of Administrative Law which will look at a vital component of the ability to check power – judicial review.

“Judicial review exists to determine whether public authorities are acting lawfully, whatever government is in power. It is a pillar of democracy that ensures the laws made by parliament remain supreme, that the state can be held to account and that people can assert their rights,” said Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis

“As the independent panel considers the moving parts of judicial review, fundamental principles must be respected in their deliberations. Judicial review must be effective and accessible to all."

“Judges must be free to rule on cases without fear or favour, free from political considerations and criticism and have a range of remedies at their disposal.”

Anyone affected by a government, public body or regulator’s decision must be able to challenge it. Organisations should be able to bring legal challenges on behalf of those they represent, within reasonable limits. There should not be excessive procedural or financial hurdles which act as a barrier to bringing a claim.

Judicial review should not encroach on the legitimate use of state power, but nor should there be artificial or inconsistent restrictions on the type of decisions that can be reviewed.

Judicial review is a remedy of last resort and its use is intimately connected to the availability of other routes of redress. A review of administrative law must maintain the integrity of the system and avoid the risk of reforms to one part disrupting the layers of checks and balances that make up the whole.

Simon Davis added: “Judicial review ensures government, public bodies and regulators are accountable according to the laws made by parliament.

“Public confidence in executive decision-making is enhanced when individuals and businesses can challenge actions by public authorities and be sure that they have been carried out lawfully.”

Notes to editors

Read the Law Society’s statement on judicial review in full

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | 0208 049 3854 (out of hours 0203 189 1880)

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