Judicial review could be reformed, warns Howe+Co

In an article on judicial review, the BBC has highlighted the plight of the Gurkha soldiers; a high profile case that Howe+Co’s David Enright was instrumental in winning.

In May 2009, it was announced by then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years’ service would be allowed to settle in the UK with their spouses and dependent children under 18.

The BBC article recognises that the process of judicial review is arguably “the most important and effective way in our democracy of holding the government and other public authorities to account.” It states that the use of judicial review has increased more than threefold in recent years, from around 4,240 in 2000 to 15,600 in 2013. However, that increase has been predominantly in immigration and asylum cases where it has been used as a pragmatic means of appealing decisions. Interestingly, civil judicial reviews have also increased, from 1,730 in 2000 to 2,190 in 2013.

As well as the Gurkhas, notable judicial review cases have covered Lewisham’s hospital closure, the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the HS2 compensation scheme, compensation for former Japanese prisoners of war and the government’s nuclear strategy.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption has warned that judicial review risks trespassing on the proper democratic function of government and the legislature.

Next Monday (8 December), the House of Commons will debate government plans to reform it, contained in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which Labour’s Shadow Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has described as ‘an unconstitutional attack on the rights of the British people’.

“Our reforms will bring balance to the judicial review system so justice is done, but unmerited, costly and time-wasting applications no longer stifle progress,” says the Justice Secretary Chris Grayliing.

Partner at Howe+Co, David Enright, added: “We will have to wait and see what the judicial review reforms will bring, but my fear is that cases such as the Gurkhas would not come to court and lots of people would miss out on the justice they rightly deserve.”

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