A Bill currently going through parliament is designed by the government to allow them to block judicial review cases.
Why should we be interested? And why is the government so concerned to get control over judicial review cases?
Judicial review is one way that ordinary people can challenge decisions by government through the courts. It has come to be used as campaigning tool. In Canterbury a group opposed to an out of town college campus used judicial review to slow down the development. Eventually the College gave up and did what the campaigners had asked for from the start – they redeveloped their existing town centre site preserving one of East Kent’s last orchards and keeping the college close to public transport links.
Judicial review was used by the Save Port Meadow Campaign in Oxford to challenge the City Council’s appalling planning decision to allow over sized blocks of flats at Roger Dudman Way to block the famous views of the dreaming spires from the River Cherwell.
However, the House of Lords has opposed the government and amended the Bill to keep the discretion of the courts.
Ironic that we have to rely on this unelected, undemocratic institution to prevent the government form bypassing democratic accountability.