V1.285 Judicial review

Introduction

Judicial review allows a person with sufficient interest in a decision or action by a public body to ask a court (normally the High Court) to review the lawfulness of—

  1.  

    (i)     an enactment; or

  2.  

    (ii)     a decision, action or failure to act in relation to the exercise of a public function1.

More generally judicial review has been regarded2 as appropriate in cases of—

  1.  

    (a)     “illegality”, ie where the decision-maker has not correctly understood the law that regulates his decision-making power and/or has not given effect to that law;

  2.  

    (b)     “irrationality”, ie "Wednesbury3 unreasonableness” — “a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it”;

  3.  

    (c)     “procedural impropriety”, ie failure to observe basic rules of natural justice or failure to act with procedural fairness towards the person who will be affected by the decision.

It may only be used where there is no right of appeal or where all avenues of appeal have been exhausted4. Thus in most cases an application to the Adjudicator (see V1.281) and/or the Parliamentary Ombudsman (see V1.283) should be made in the first instance5.

The grounds for judicial review have been classified as follows—

  1.  

    (1)     want or excess of jurisdiction;

  2.  

    (2)     error of law on the face of the record;

  3.  

    (3)     failure to comply with the rules of natural justice; and

  4.  

    (4)     that the decision complained of was

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