Judicial review: Labour query independence of government probe

Current and former members of the Supreme Court

Labour has questioned the independence of a government probe into how its decisions are challenged in the courts, after a former Conservative minister was chosen to head the process.

Lord Faulks will chair a panel looking into potential reforms to the existing system of judicial review.

Senior Conservatives have long argued it is abused for political ends.

But shadow justice secretary David Lammy said the probe was a “blatant attempt to disempower the public”.

Judicial review is a procedure that allows anyone who has been affected by a decision or failure to act by a public authority to apply to the courts to rule whether its actions were lawful or not.

The most high profile case of recent times was anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller’s challenge to Boris Johnson’s attempt to suspend Parliament for five weeks last autumn.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the controversial move was unlawful and overturned it.

In 2017, Ms Miller was similarly successful in challenging former prime minister Theresa May’s government over the need for parliamentary approval of the Article 50 process for leaving the EU.

Mr Johnson has argued that the courts are increasingly being dragged into political matters which should be the preserve of ministers and Parliament.

In their election manifesto, the Conservatives vowed to look into whether the existing system was fit for purpose as part of a wider examination of the relationship between the executive, legislature and judiciary.

‘Precious check’

The Ministry of Justice said the much narrower review announced on Friday would look at potential reforms to ensure the “right balance” is struck between citizens’ rights and effective governance.

It will examine whether the terms of judicial review should be enshrined in law, whether certain decisions taken by government should not be open to challenge and which remedies should be available to the courts when they find against the executive.

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