What Are Judicial Reviews?

Judge in a court room
Legally reviewed by: Laura Smith In: Regulatory Law

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) – maveric2003

A judicial review is a court investigation whereby a judge examines the lawfulness of decisions (or a lack of a decision) made by public bodies. They protect UK individuals from exploitation or unfair treatment caused by state powers acting illegally. This protection helps to uphold democracy.

A judicial review may be used to challenge:

  • Decisions made regarding benefits and welfare provisions
  • A failure of a local authority to provide 
  • Decisions on prisoners’ rights
  • Decisions made regarding accessibility and discrimination

The time limits to make an application for judicial review are very short. Therefore, it is vital to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible after a decision is made.

Reasons Why A Judicial Review Would Overturn A Decision

A judicial review is conducted to challenge unlawful decisions. There are a few different legal reasons that could mean a decision is overturned:

The Decision Was Illegal

If you prove that the decision-maker did not have the legal power to do so, their decision can be overruled by a judge.

The Decision Was Made Through Unfair Procedures

Proving that improper processes led up to and informed the decision, can result in it being reversed by a judge. These unfair processes might include a biased decision maker who should have remained impartial or a lack of adequate representation for individuals who should have been consulted.

The Decision Was Irrational

The Law states that the judicial review must find that no reasonable person, acting reasonably, would have made that decision. This reason is the hardest to prove as it is very subjective.

The Decision Breached The Human Rights Act 1998

If a public office or authority breached the 1998 Human Rights Act, a judge could overturn their decision. However, this reasoning is not applicable if the office violated the Act by acting in line with Government instructions.

How To Apply For A Judicial Review

If a decision has affected you that may have been unlawful, irrational, breached the Human Rights Act or made with unfair processes, you can apply for a judicial review.

However, you must apply to a court for permission to take your case further. It is recommended that you attempt to settle the dispute out of court beforehand as reviews can be expensive, stressful and time-consuming. Plus, your case has to be ‘arguable’ to receive a judicial review. Many applications are refused or withdrawn. 

Contact a solicitor for advice on the process.

Making Your application

To make your application, you need to complete an N461 Judicial Claim Form. This form must be filed promptly: within three months of the decision.

You must make your application at the appropriate court. These courts are in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Cardiff and Manchester. Generally, initial permission will be granted in three to five months if your application is successful. Then you can take your case before a judge for review.

For more information on applying for a judicial review, visit the Government website

How Much Does A Judicial Review Cost?

There are costs associated with bringing a case forward for judicial review. As of March 2022, it costs £154 to apply for permission and then £770 to proceed to court. You will also likely incur legal fees for solicitors’ advice and representation throughout your case. These expenses can be claimed back off the defendant if your case is successful, but if not, you may end up paying the defendant’s legal bills.

If required, you may be able to receive free legal support from Civil Legal Advice, this scheme will assess your case and financial situation. 

Cartwright King Legal Aid

Cartwright King offers legal aid covering criminal defence, corporate crime, regulatory law, child care, immigration, health and welfare, family law and motoring offences. We provide legal advice and assistance to our clients, using our experience to guide them through legal processes.

If you want to assess whether you have a case or take one to court, our specialist solicitors can support you through the process. Please contact our team today to discover more about our expert advice or get started. 

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.