Judicial review

Judicial review is a process where the court examines the decision-making process of a public body (such as your local authority). It is very important to remember that it is only concerned with the lawfulness of the decision-making process; it cannot consider the merits of any decision.

Hugh James environmental solicitors are well known and highly regarded for advising on environmental group actions and leading judicial reviews against local authority and government decisions.

What is a judicial review?

Judicial review is only concerned with the lawfulness of the decision-making process. It cannot consider the merits of any decision.  It will not interfere with the discretion of a public body unless the public body has acted unlawfully.

The usual result from a judicial review procedure is that the decision is quashed or nullified.  In turn, this usually means that the decision has to be taken again.  However, if a decision was taken inappropriately at the first instance, it will be difficult for it to be taken again.

Judicial review proceedings have to be issued promptly and usually within three months after the decision in question has been made.  It can be difficult to assess when time begins to run in various cases.  It is therefore important that if you wish to challenge a public authority’s decision that you take steps to do as soon as possible. Because of the tight timescales involved, we will require your assistance to organise the documents before sending them to us, so that we can assess the prospects of your potential judicial review claim in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Permission must be obtained from the court before a full hearing will be permitted before the High Court.

Public funding (formally known as Legal Aid) is still available for judicial review cases subject to a successful application.

Judicial review environmental claim types

We have acted on many different types of environmental judicial review cases. We have significant expertise in leading judicial reviews against all different kinds of environmental concerns against planning applications.

In addition, we can also help you with the following:

  • Land Compensation Act claims;
  • Airport expansion and development concerns; and
  • Road expansion and development concerns.

Hugh James environmental judicial review experience

Our solicitors are regularly instructed by groups of residents wishing to challenge decisions which impact on the environment.

The law relating to judicial review is complex and we recommend that you take specialist advice if you are considering a challenge. The main thing you need to know is that the court will not readily interfere with public authority’s decisions however decision makers must act lawfully and in a procedurally fair way. This includes taking into account material considerations, not taking into account immaterial considerations, and acting within their powers.  The court has a supervisory role in ensuring that the decision maker has acted lawfully.

Environmental judicial review

If you are wishing to pursue an environmental judicial review case. Follow our simple guidelines to make the process as straightforward and simple as possible.

Planning a judicial review in an environmental case

Hugh James environmental law solicitors regularly assist with judicial reviews. from our experience in dealing with these types of cases we have been able to create some simple guidelines that you should follow when pursuing a judicial review claim.

Organising your judicial review case

Running your judicial review case involves teamwork, between you, us, counsel (barristers), other interested people, and experts. If all cooperate it will greatly assist with your claim.   If there are a large group of people involved it is easier for our judicial review solicitors to deal with a sole co-ordinator.Our client will be the co-ordinator for the claim and they will then liaise with the rest of the group.

The role of the coordinator

Once the co-ordinator has been assigned he or she will have several functions that they should carry out. The coordinator will represent the interests of the group. To ease efficiency the co-ordinator should have access to the bank account from which invoices are met or payments on account made. This will make the process far simpler than having contributions from separate individuals in each instance.

To what extent the coordinator can take decisions independently of the group is an internal matter for the group.  In practice decisions and responsibility is dependent on who is named in the court proceedings and who is taking financial responsibility for the group.

We will, of course, try and oblige the whole group, but we have to warn that the more people involved, the more time consuming and therefore expensive the work becomes. It is therefore far simpler and more cost efficient to have the single point of contact.

Document efficiency

The co-ordinator will need to ensure that we are provided will all the relevant documents.  For organisation we recommend –

  • Putting documents in a lever arch file in chronological order. That means putting the most recent documents at the back.
  • The file should read like a book.
  • Don’t divide the material up into “issues”. It is better if everything is chronological.
  • Index (ie. list the contents) but do not number the pages
  • Copy on one side of the paper only.
  • Remove duplicates.

Planning judicial review documentation

Many judicial review cases that we do relate to decisions made about planning.  Copies of planning documents are available from the planning authority. You have a right to look at the planning register and local authorities will usually give free access to their files. Copying documents can be expensive, but the costs are small in relation to winning or losing a High Court case. Be sure to look for, and include copies of:

  • The officer’s report to committee. Sometimes there will be a series of these, in which case send all of them.
  • Minutes of the committee meeting(s) dealing with the application.
  • The planning application itself and supporting documents.
  • Anything on the file relating to environmental impact assessment.
  • Letters of support and objection.

Client summaries

It is often useful to have a brief written resume of the history of a matter, perhaps just one or two  pages.

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