A government-commissioned probe of judicial review has reportedly issued a call for evidence as a group of public law experts, set up by a charity that helps vulnerable people hold the state to account, prepares to meet to discuss the review's agenda.
According to legal commentator and Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg, the Independent Review of Administrative Law, chaired by former Tory justice minister Lord Faulks QC, is seeking evidence on 'how well or effectively judicial review balances the legitimate interest in citizens being able to challenge the lawfulness of executive action with the role of the executive in carrying on the business of government, both locally and centrally'.
Rozenberg says on his A Lawyer Writes website that the panel is particularly interested in ‘any notable trends in judicial review over the last 30 to 40 years. Specifically, the panel is interested in understanding whether the balance struck is the same now as it was before, and whether it should be struck differently going forward’. Responses to the review panel's questionnaire must be submitted by 19 October.
Terms of reference published on the Gov.uk website include which grounds the courts should be able to find a decision to be unlawful, and whether those grounds should depend on the nature and subject matter of the power.
Public Law Project has set up an expert group which will hold the first of three roundtable discussions tomorrow to discuss the terms, what reform might look like in each area, and the role of evidence in the reform process.
The group is being chaired by Professor Paul Craig QC (Hon) and Blackstone Chambers' Dinah Rose QC. Members include Karen Ashton, head of public law and human rights at Central England Law Centre, Melanie Carter, head of the public and regulatory law department at Bates Wells, Leigh Day associate Rosa Curling, Deighton Pierce Glynn founding partner Polly Glynn, Lord Phillips, former president of the Supreme Court, Sir Jack Beatson, former lord justice of appeal and law commissioner, Dr Natalie Byrom of the Legal Education Foundation, Dr Catherine Haddon of the Institute for Government, and several prominent barristers and academics.
Dr Joe Tomlinson, PLP research director, said: ‘The government has highlighted the importance of examining data and evidence as part of the reform process. The government has also previously expressed support for evidence-based policymaking in relation to justice reform more generally.
'In the context of judicial review, such an approach requires detailed consideration of what types of evidence are needed and how any gaps in the evidence base can be addressed. This programme of discussions will help answer these critical questions and provide a pathway to better reform.
'At present, the evidence base around the questions at the centre of the current reform process has important holes. For instance, we lack detailed evidence on the operation disclosure and the duty of candour. The absence of good quality evidence is also clear in the context of costs - something that was apparent in the Jackson Review's consideration of judicial review.'
The Gazette has requested a copy of the call for evidence and questionnaire, and asked the Ministry of Justice if the documents will be put in the public domain.