Labour’s shadow attorney general has reiterated plans to repeal the government’s reform of judicial review.
In a speech confirming the party’s policy last night, Lord Bach said a Labour government would set about dismantling part four of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, which received royal assent earlier this year.
The changes reduce the availability and effectiveness of judicial review, in particular stopping review of decisions taken unlawfully but where lawful action would have produced the same result.
In a speech at Nottingham Trent University yesterday, Bach repeated the pledge to repeal the judicial review reforms.
‘Of course some claims are without merit and they are often weeded out at the permission stage,’ he said.
‘However, in spite of the lord chancellor’s assertion that judicial review is widely misused, the government has never provided any evidence to back this up.
‘The consensus among judges and lawyers of all political persuasions and none, is that judicial review is an essential safeguard of individual freedom and is yet another part of the rule of law that has been attacked for no good reason.’
Bach pointed out that the lord chancellor Chris Grayling has had decisions successfully judicially reviewed seven times and he suggested the Conservatives would appreciate the merits of judicial review if they were in opposition.
The shadow attorney general made no commitment to reversing legal aid cuts, and indeed appeared to concede that it was not possible to restore much that was taken out of scope by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
He added: ‘Although social welfare law only took a small percentage of the total legal aid budget, 10% or so out of £2bn, it was in my view a gem in the crown of British justice and once removed cannot just be put back again.’