Overview

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.

Key contact

Stephanie specialises in group actions on behalf of communities and residents across England and Wales affected by various forms of environmental pollution such as odour, noise and dust emanating from factories, landfill sites and other similar commercial entities. She has successfully concluded a number of environmental group actions in locations within the UK and has secured compensation and an end to the nuisance on behalf of a large number of individuals.

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Your questions answered

What experience does Hugh James have in environmental judicial reviews?
 

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.

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.

What are the different types of judicial review environmental claims?
 

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.
How do you plan for 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.

Quotes

I and 130 of my neighbours have had cause to engage ‘Hugh James’ to deal with a current problem that is ongoing at the moment and have found their professionalism and assistance in all matters so far to be of a very high standard. They seem to be tenacious, approachable and responsive to any concerns I have had throughout and for such a service I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone whom may find that they have to embark on a similar path.

Anonymous client

Quotes

Hugh James recently successfully represented local residents in a difficult and major claim against a landfill operator. Throughout the case, we were extremely impressed by the way in which the case was presented and handled. The solicitor acting on our behalf fully explained our position, opportunities, and strategies, at all times displaying professionalism of the highest order. The pleasant, courteous and patient manner in which everything was fully and effectively explained contributed greatly to success in winning the difficult and complicated case.

Anonymous client

Quotes

I wanted to thank you and your team for the way in which you have handled the case. Right from the earliest meetings and the regular updates, things were laid out clearly and emotive issues handled with sensitivity. It’s also clear that you were successful in the negotiations delivering a result that would not have been possible without you. Thanks again for all your work.

Manchester Airport claimant.

Quotes

“.. What you have achieved for us is worth more than cash alone. We have been let down by the regulators time and again and Hugh James is the only organisation which has achieved anything for us long-suffering residents. I want to thank you for what you have achieved.”

Mr B – South Yorkshire

Quotes

So far, I have found Hugh James to be very open and honest in their dealings. They are very good at keeping us informed of what is happening, and they always ask before carrying out any actions on our behalf. Based on my experience so far, I would have no hesitation in recommending them to help in any action you are considering or pursuing.

Mr Paris

Quotes

I would just like to thank your company for the efficient way you have handled this matter / you have kept me regularly informed by the way of letters explaining all procedures and possible outcomes in relation to the investigation.

Mr Tarvin (Hampshire)

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I have to admit that I was very skeptical at first, as it did not seem possible that I would not be considerably out of pocket should we have lost the case at court. However you were able to put my mind at rest. With the success of the claim, I feel this has completely justified our efforts in complaining to the defendant and recording the times etc of the worst incidents. The smell really was nasty at times, which most importantly has now ceased.

Mr Tarvin (Hampshire)

Quotes

The reason I joined and contributed to this group claim, was to bring an improvement to my own, and neighbour's environmental living conditions. This has largely been met. Without your involvement, Cannock Council would not have felt it necessary to become involved and we would still be in the same position as we have been for the past forty years. For this, I thank you and Hugh James. Our whole community will reap the benefit of this for years to come.

Mr Woodman (Norton Aluminium Group Litigation)

Quotes

The “unstoppable” Neil Stockdale is head of the environment team at the firm. He maintains his position as a market leader on group actions for claimants affected by pollution and blight including odour or noise. Interviewees say he is ‘highly experienced,’ ‘very focused’ and ‘very approachable.’

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