The Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) is a panel set up by the Government to review the judicial review process.

Judicial review is a type of legal case where a judge (or judges) reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public authority. Public authorities include, local councils, government departments and Ministers, police forces, regulators (such as the CQC) and health authorities. The judge does not decide if the original decision by the public authority was right or wrong; instead they look at the process of the decision making.

What is the Judicial Review Panel?

The panel will look at the things set out in its “terms of reference”. These include:

  • Whether the reasons (or grounds) for bringing a judicial review should be codified. This means put into a written down law. At the moment the three grounds for judicial review, outlined above, are part of the Common Law. These means they have been set down in legal cases over a long period of time and become principles of our legal systems. A lot of rules and procedures for legal cases in the UK are part of Common Law.
  • Whether the of the category of justiciable matters (the situations where a judicial review of a decision can take place) should be restricted. The means looking at changing what public authority decisions can be challenged by people.
  • Whether the law of standing (who can bring a judicial review) should be altered. This means looking at changing what people can challenge decision by public authorities.

You can read more about the panel and what judicial review is in our handy plain language Explainer: What is the Judicial Review Panel?

As part of their review, the IRAL ran a Call for Evidence from 7 September to 26 October 2020. We submitted evidence - find out more below.

Our Evidence Submission

At the British Institute of Human Rights, we work in communities across the UK to enable positive change through human rights. Our evidence submission to the IRAL is grounded in both our legal knowledge and experience, and our work directly with people on the law and legal processes as they impact people in everyday life.

We submitted our evidence on 26 October 2020. Our submission shows that judicial review is a crucial mechanism for protecting and respecting the human rights of people in the UK. Judicial review protects not only the people that are directly affected by a decision that is made by public bodies but all of us, by helping to ensure there is a human rights culture in the UK.

Our evidence, gathered from both decision makers (staff working in health, care and social work) and people who access services (and the family members, advocates and community groups that support them) shows that across the board there is strong support for judicial review in its current form.

Read our evidence submission here!

Our key findings

We asked people, advocates and staff, "Do you have experience of judicial review influencing decision making and/or protecting human rights?".

They responded:

       

We asked people, advocates and staff, "Would you be worried if the judicial review process was diluted or changed?"

They responded:

       
It is clear from the responses to our survey that both decision makers (staff working in health, care and social work) and people who access services (and the family members, advocates and community groups that support them) agree in the importance of the judicial review process as a mechanism for protecting human rights, and furthering the creation of a culture of human rights in the UK.

In our submission, we urged the IRAL to be mindful of the wider importance of judicial review in our constitutional arrangements, and particularly for people in their everyday lives. An over focus on changing the technicalprocedures around Judicial Review, absent of this context, risksundermining this important accountability mechanism, which helps ensure people’s rights are upheld in every day decision making across the country.