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Judicial Review Notes

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This is an extract of our Judicial Review document, which we sell as part of our Constitutional Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

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Judicial Review INTRODUCTION

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Judicial review sets the legal framework within which decisions affecting the rights, interests and legitimate expectations of individuals are taken.

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Ministers must have sufficient consultation, must not act for an improper purpose, and may have to honour promises. He may also be required to give reasons for his decision. What judicial review is and is not about:

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Judicial review is concerned with the manner in which the decision was taken, not the decision itself.

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This highlights the difference between 'appeal' and 'review' - appeal can make a judgement on the content of the decision.

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This approach is seen as proper, as the court is not qualified to comment on the substantive merit of many decisions, but is an expert on the law.

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Another reason for taking this approach is for democratic legitimacy: the court are supposed to act as a check and balance on government decisions. It is quite common for a government decision to be struck down on judicial review, but the same outcome reached by the observance of the correct procedure the next time - the court cannot and should not be able to affect the substantive outcome. Judicial review and administrative law:

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Administrative law is concerned with the ability of individuals to hold government decisions to account. It is also concerned with the organisation, duties and rules of public authorities. Judicial review and accountability:

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As discussed, the executive has vast power in the UK. Their growing role has increased the necessity for judicial review.

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Judicial review does not only hold central government to account, but all forms of public bodies.

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Judicial review is just one aspect of overlapping means of holding the executive to account. Judicial review and conceptions of constitutionalism:

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What should the balance between political and legal accountability be?

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Those who are enthusiastic about judicial review support a minimalist view of the state with the courts limiting their power as independent and

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neutral arbitrators. Others believe that the government should be left to govern. This heralds judicial review as a safeguard. There may be a pragmatic justification for judicial review: ministerial responsibility has shown itself at times to be weak, and judicial review is fundamentally necessary response to that weakness. In this view judicial review is a substitute for political accountability. This was supported by Lord Mustill in the Fire Brigade's Union case. To people who support the pragmatic approach, Parliamentary reform may be enough to fix the problems. But those who view judicial review as a limiting force on the state would support it in spite of reform of Parliament. Those who do not support judicial review turn to the small demographic that the judiciary represents and their undemocratic nature as to why they should not be granted such power. Scrutiny of policy should be left to Parliament, which is a democratically elected body of society. Note that very few people advocate no judicial review at all.

Judicial review and the multi-layered constitution:

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Not only does judicial review show where power lies between individuals and the government, but also where power lies between different parts of the multi-layered constitution e.g. Holyrood/Westminster, local/central government.

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As the constitution becomes more multi-layered, the need to resolve disputes between branches of government will grow. These disputes over boundaries of power are known as 'demarcation disputes'.

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This is normal in countries, for example, that have a federalist system, but is relatively unknown to the British courts.

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There are political ways of figuring out these disputes, and again the balance between political and legal methods is a fine one.

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In the Fire Brigade Union case, the court resolved a dispute between the legislative and executive branch of government, but it split the house on whether this was appropriate. The Constitutional Basis of Judicial Review The ultra vires doctrine:

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Ministers are not allowed to act outside of their constitutional power - ultra vires. The court looks at the extent of the power the minister has been granted and whether not he has gone beyond that.

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This provides a good justification of judicial review because on this interpretation the courts are merely enforcing the limits of the power afforded to ministers by Parliament.

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In reality, however, the courts limit the power of ministers in a manner beyond what is necessarily clear in statute. When a court rules that the

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