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03 November 2020

Hasty reform to judicial review could lead to constitutional crisis warns BDB Pitmans

‘Ill-considered’ and ‘hastily implemented’ proposals to reform the judicial review process could have a domino effect upon other areas of law, and risk creating a constitutional crisis.

Senior lawyers at BDB Pitmans have claimed that, rather than seeking to re-invent the wheel, time would be better spent looking at earlier unimplemented reform proposals. They warn that the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL), led by Lord Faulks, has been set a huge task without adequate time or resources. The overarching objective of the review is also unclear.

The claims are made as part of the firm’s submission to the IRAL Call for Evidence – which closed on 26 October 2020. The IRAL was launched on July 2020 to consider options for reform to the process of judicial review.

Matthew Smith, Partner in BDB Pitmans’ public law team, commenting on the submission, said:

‘Judicial review is the single, most potent mechanism, in law at least, for challenging the government if and when it seeks to act beyond its powers, or otherwise unlawfully. Its real value lies in the facility it provides to give even the smallest voices in our society a proper hearing; and to keep governments and other public bodies honest and accountable.

At a time when populism threatens to unpick so many of the freedoms we hold dear, it is crucial that any proposals to reform the process for judicial review are weighed carefully and cautiously. There is a real fear that this review has been given neither the time nor the resources to fulfil that brief.’

The BDB Pitmans public and administrative law practice comprises of 30 lawyers made up of 10 partners and 20 qualified solicitors or barristers. It provides a market leading service as litigators, advisors and legislative drafters.

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