What are the grounds for judicial review?

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Published on LexisPSL on 27/04/2016

The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What are the grounds for judicial review?
  • Grounds for judicial review
  • Judicial review process and pre-action considerations
  • Further reading

What are the grounds for judicial review?

We have focused on judicial review in the High Court in England and Wales. Having conducted a comprehensive search of our resources on this subject, we refer you to the following guidance, which may be helpful for your purposes.

Grounds for judicial review

Traditionally, the courts have refused to resolve factual disputes or enter into the substantive merits of the decisions of public bodies. Rather, its traditional function is to ensure only that those decisions were lawful, procedurally fair and rational, (see Council for Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service).

The classic grounds for judicial review are illegality, irrationality and procedural unfairness. However, it has been said that the key purpose of judicial review is to prevent the abuse or misuse of public power (see R v North and East Devon Health Authority, ex parte Coughlan, paras 69 and 81), and as such the grounds upon which a claim may be brought continue to evolve.

The main grounds for judicial review are:

  1. illegality—this means simply that the public body must understand and give effect to the law governing the action in question. It must not only act in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but must also respect the policy and purpose of the legislation

  2. procedural unfairness—the requirements of procedural fairness, sometimes known as 'natural justice', depend

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