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Judicial review

What is judicial review?

Judicial review is a process that requires a judge to assess the lawfulness of a particular decision or course of action taken by a public body, such as a local authority, court, tribunal, health service provider or a central government department and agency. A judicial review is an investigation and a judgment on the way in which that decision has been reached, rather than being a ruling about the outcome.

If a judicial review claim is successful, the original decision will be found to be unlawful and will be quashed.

This process demands a legal team that is knowledgeable, flexible and responsive. Clarke Willmott’s highly experienced solicitors can advise on all aspects of public and administrative law, including judicial review.

How we can help

Clarke Willmott has a team of litigation specialists who can advise individuals and organisations on bringing, defending or intervening in judicial reviews.

Here are some examples of decisions which could be considered for judicial review:

  • Public law procurement challenges
  • Procedural fairness and human rights issues
  • Data protection and Freedom of Information
  • Social care, benefits and housing provision
  • Planning, compulsory purchase orders and clearance schemes
  • Tribunal, statutory appeals and inquiries
  • Competition

What are the grounds for judicial review?

Grounds for judicial review relate to the procedure surrounding a decision taken by a public body or the substance of that decision.

Broadly, there are three main grounds for a judicial review:

  • Illegality – Where there is reason to believe a public body has failed in its duty to follow the law properly. A judge may rule a decision or action illegal on the basis that the public body did not have the power or it acted beyond its jurisdiction.
  • Fairness – Where there is reason to believe a public body has acted unfairly. This could be in the decision or action it has taken, the process followed, the circumstances that were considered when reaching a decision or a breach of promise following a decision.
  • Irrationality – where the decision reached by the public body is unreasonable, perverse or disproportionate. In other words, it clearly does not make sense. These criteria can be hard to demonstrate, which is why it they are rarely argued on their own.

Time limits for a judicial review

A judicial review requires an application for permission from the court and needs to be acted on quickly. Even though up to three months may be allowed, many applications must be brought more speedily. For example, a planning judicial review, must be started within 6 weeks of the date the planning permission was issued.

The judicial review process can be drawn out and complicated, so it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. One of our specialist solicitors can advise you on the process and your chances of success and provide you with a prompt, focussed and practical response to your case.

Why choose Clarke Willmott for judicial review

Our specialist litigation solicitors are highly experienced in bringing, defending and intervening in judicial reviews and other administrative and public law matters.  We also provide expertise and support to other Clarke Willmott legal teams, on judicial reviews that may emerge out of projects they are advising on.

“Clarke Willmott has an informed and engaged team of lawyers who are knowledgeable of their subject.” Chambers, 2024

“They’re good at seeing the big picture and the commercial nature of decisions that have to be made and advising accordingly.” Chambers, 2024

“Highly personal and extremely attentive.” Legal 500, 2024

“Owen Williams – a mind like a steel trap!” Legal 500, 2024


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