Law Society Says Prospective Judicial Reform Bill Will Lead To Ineffective Justice System

Law Society Says Prospective Judicial Reform Bill Will Lead To Ineffective Justice System

By Ashley Young-

The Uk government’s judicial review  reform bill that takes away the remedy  entitled to one who wins a judicial review would lead to an ineffecitve justice system, the Law Society has said.

The criticism was made to the House of Commons general committee scrutinising the Judicial Review and Courts Bill who has been listening to expert views from a range of bodies about the controversial bill, among which was the law society head of public law.

The bill will be further scrutinised today and next week, before moving to report stage and a third reading in the Commons. It will then head to the House of Lords.

Ellie Cumbo, the Law Society’s head of public law, told the committee that prospective-only quashing orders which introduce a discretion to suspend quashing orders and provide onl#

He said prospective remedies were a ‘drastic new suggestion’ that did not arise from the Independent Review of Administrative Law.

Cumbo said: ”its effect would be to remove a remedy from the person who successfully challenges a decision and proves that it is unlawful. Is that no0=t the most basic requirement of a justice system – that people who bring a case and win it are then entitled to an effective remedy? That one really is very difficult to justify and is a radical departure from the expectations that I suggest all of us, including all of your constituents, have of an effective justice system,’ she said.

Louise Whitfield, head of legal casework at Liberty, said there was no evidence the government’s reforms will improve public body decision-making.

‘One of the main benefits of judicial review is that it holds public bodies accountable, and we’re not just talking about central government – we’re talking about all sorts of public bodies making decisions affecting people’s day-to-day lives,’ she said.

‘If it improves public body decision-making, we would expect to see reforms that were going to help that. In actual fact, we think that these reforms will hinder the ability of public bodies to make good decisions. They will be tempted to gamble more.

It will create a risk of incentivising them because they won’t have to put right the wrongs that are found by the court. It will buy them a couple of years while the case is fought out. They will know there’s a good chance of getting a prospective-only remedy or some suspended quashing order even when it’s been found that the policy or decision has been unlawful.’

Sara Lomri, deputy legal director of Public Law Project,  told the committee that judicial review is a remedy of last resort.

‘I’m a solicitor. I represent individuals who bring judicial review. It’s about hospitals and care homes closing, it’s about policies discriminating against service personnel, it’s about disabled children denied proper care.’

She added that judicial review is hard to access, legal aid is heavily restricted, and cases that the government felt were political were in the ‘absolute minority’.

The bill will be further scrutinised today and next week, before moving to report stage and a third reading in the Commons. It will then head to the House of Lords.

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