Judicial Review provides legal recourse to challenge the lawfulness of a decision or action of a body performing a public function. In considering a Judicial Review, the Judicial Review Court will examine whether the body observed all relevant legal rules, standards and requirements; and acted within the limits of its powers.
Where the Court decides that the body (the ‘defendant’) has acted unlawfully, it can set aside the decision or impose an injunction. It also has the power to award damages to the applicant.
The C&AG has decided to produce a factual, informative report on the Judicial Review process. The report will only deal with Judicial Reviews relating to ‘delegated matters’, where the Departmental Solicitor’s Office provides services to the defendant.
The scope of the report will include:
- Clarifying the various roles and responsibilities in relation to Judicial Reviews in Northern Ireland;
- A comparison of the arrangements in Northern Ireland against other United Kingdom jurisdictions and the Republic of Ireland;
- Judicial Review statistics, for example, on the numbers over the last 10 years, analysed by department/public body and by type of issues being challenged, the time taken and outcomes at various stages of Judicial Review process;
- Estimates of the cost of Judicial Reviews to individuals and departments/public bodies. We will also want to identify the number of cases taken by individuals entitled to legal aid.
- A review of some individual Judicial Reviews (Case Studies) to illustrate the impact on projects/public administration and to highlight the arrangements in place to facilitate learning across the public sector.
The C&AG intends to publish the report in Winter 2021.