UK government reforms the Judicial Review procedure

Judicial Review, Tribunal, AIT 29 November 2012

In a move that will drastically affect thousands of immigration cases, Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the UK government will reform the 'judicial review' procedure.

In a judicial review, the claimant can request that a judge review a decision or a lack of decision by a public body, if that public body has acted beyond its ordinary powers. If the judge finds that the decision was illegal, unfair or disproportionate, they may order the public body to reconsider their decision or even replace the decision with their own.

As part of these proposed changes, access to such reviews will be restricted. These restrictions will involve increasing the cost of applying for a judicial review and also reducing the period in which someone may apply for a judicial review.

There are concerns that the reduced application period may result in rushed judicial reviews that have not been properly prepared for, preventing applicants from receiving a fair decision. There will be a consultation regarding this reform, but it is unclear as to what extent.

The Prime Minister claims that the reform will aid the UK's economic recovery by helping the progress of key infrastructure schemes that face opposition from the general public, such as the high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham. It will also reduce the heavy cost incurred by the UK as a result of judicial reviews.

However, a staggering 80% of the 11,200 judicial reviews in 2011 were related to immigration cases, so this reform will significantly affect immigrants and the lawyers who represent them. The institutions that are commonly reviewed under immigration law are the Home Office, the United Kingdom Border Agency and the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.

The governing body for Britain's solicitors, the Law Society, said: 'There are already considerable hurdles imposed by the courts before a judicial review can be brought. There may be scope for reform but the basic characteristics of judicial review, of holding the executive to account in the exercise of wide powers, should not be lost.'

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