Doubts cast on fairness of inquiry into reform of judicial review

Law firms have cast doubt on the fairness of an inquiry into reform of the judicial review system in the UK.

Fundamental elements of the constitution are to be reviewed by a panel appointed by the UK government, with a view to reform. 

Announcing the review in July, the government said the panel of experts, chaired by Lord Faulks QC would examine if there is a need to reform the judicial review process.

However, law firms Leigh Day, Bindmans, Irwin Mitchell, Bhatt Murphy and Deighton Pierce Glynn (DPG) say that, without an open call for evidence early in the process, it will not be possible for the review to be genuine and fair.

In a letter sent last week, the group states: “Given the incredibly wide range of factors that the panel will have to consider, and the potentially major constitutional change that such reforms could bring about if adopted, those options must be subject to a full and proper consultation at a formative stage.”

The lawyers also voiced concern that the panel members “are not fully representative of those concerned about the future of judicial review”.

They have called on the government to consider expanding the panel to include practising lawyers with expertise in claimant law public law litigation and legal aid funded judicial review work so that the call for evidence will be better scrutinised.

In a joint statement the law firms said: “For such a review to be credible, its terms need to be widened significantly, and the membership of the panel needs to more fully reflect the legal body that carries out judicial review work. If it is not, then any premise underlying this review, that judicial review is routinely abused by claimants, may go uncorrected.”