That pesky thing called judicial review

Judicial review, eh? I mean, what a bind. Having to deal with NIMBYs getting in the way of capital projects, and all that. Imagine, then, my relief that ‘David Cameron has promised to crack down on “time-wasting” caused by the “massive growth industry” in legal challenges to government policy.’

Well, not quite. There has been plenty reaction from other legal outlets, like @AdamWagner‘s analysis on the UK Human Rights Blog, a Guardian column from Jeffrey Jowell QC and, shouting out for the little guy, this release from the Public Law Project. I have nothing in particular to add to those measured comments, except for one short missive from my Scottish base.

The case of AXA General Insurance Ltd, Petrs 2011 S.L.T. 1061 concerned a challenge to Scottish legislation. At the outset, it will be noted that devolved legislation under the Scotland Act 1998 (as amended) is not at the same point in the legislative hierarchy as the actions of Westminster, and the case of Salvesen v Riddell 2012 S.L.T. 633 (which I have already blogged about) shows the special vulnerability of Scottish legislation to judicial challenge, but the comments made by Lord Hope in defence of judicial review in the Scottish context might be instructive. At paragraph 51, he noted:

It is not entirely unthinkable that a government which has that power may seek to use it to abolish judicial review or to diminish the role of the courts in protecting the interests of the individual. Whether this is likely to happen is not the point. It is enough that it might conceivably do so. The rule of law requires that the judges must retain the power to insist that legislation of that extreme kind is not law which the courts will recognise.

So what is it to be, Prime Minister? Do you want to “get a grip” on people forcing unnecessary delays, as the BBC reports? Or should you “get a grip” on what the rule of law is and what it means in a modern legal system?

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About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
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