Challenging closures and cuts - What is judicial review?
What is judicial review?
Judicial review is a type of court process. The judge decides if a public body has followed the law when making a decision or action. Judicial review focuses on whether the law has been correctly applied, and the right procedures have been followed. It does not decide if the decision is right or wrong.
Judicial review is an option you can use if a local authority or the NHS has not done a proper consultation before cutting a service.
Where do I start?
- The process is complicated and you have to act quickly.
- You should speak to a solicitor who specialises in ‘public law’.
- You only have 3 months from the start of the decision you are challenging to apply for judicial review.
- You need to have ‘sufficient interest’ in the case. You need to be directly or indirectly affected by the decision. Usually you will be the person using the services or their carer.
What will happen?
There are two stages. First, the judge must agree that you have a case. If they think you do, there can be a full trial. You do not normally have to go in person to the court or give evidence.
The judge will think about whether the local authority or NHS made the decision in the right way. This includes whether they:
- didn’t have the power to make the decision,
- followed a very rigid policy when they shouldn’t have,
- thought about equality issues,
- thought about the wrong things,
- didn’t consult local people, or
- refused to take important evidence into account.
The judge cannot say that cutting a service is the wrong decision. So, in some cases, challenging the decision may just delay it. If the judge thinks the local authority or NHS has made the decision in the wrong way, they may just do it again properly.
You can find out more about the judicial review process here.
Is this the right option for me?
Deciding to make a judicial review is a big decision. Judicial review will not give you financial compensation. It can be stressful, expensive and time consuming. It is important to think about whether it is the right option for you.
Do I need legal advice?
If you want to go to court, you will need advice from a solicitor. Try to speak to a solicitor who has experience of judicial review of NHS or local authorities. You can search for a solicitor on the Law Society website.
If you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, you may be able to get legal aid. You will need to find a solicitor who does legal aid work. If you are not eligible for legal aid, you will need to think very carefully about using judicial review. Cases can be extremely expensive.
You can find out if you are eligible for Legal Aid by contacting the Civil Legal Advice Service. You can find their contact details in here.
Some charities or interest groups may be willing to fund judicial review on your behalf. But this is very rare.
You can find more information here.
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