Work in Progress - The Judicial Review process in NI

Work in progress

We are currently undertaking work in order to produce this publication. Details of when we aim to publish the finalised report are indicated below.

In our report on Major Capital Projects (December 2019), some stakeholders suggested there was an increasing appetite to challenge decisions made by public bodies through Judicial Review.

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.  This report does not set out to challenge the principal or process of Judicial Review, nor to review or question any of the Court’s decisions.

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 number of cases taken in the last number of years, analysed by department/public body, the time taken and outcomes at various stages of Judicial Review process;
  • Estimates of the cost of Judicial Reviews to departments/public bodies. We will also identify the number of legal aid applications in respect of Judicial Review cases and the associated cost.
  • Consideration of the arrangements in place to facilitate learning from Judicial Review cases across the public sector.

A number of cases studies will be included.  The C&AG intends to publish the report in March 2023.