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Judical Review

Judicial Review is the means by which, in general, decisions of public bodies can be considered by the courts and in appropriate cases quashed. Quashing means that the decision under challenge is nullified, as if it had never been made in the first place.

Therefore the court only sends it back to the original decision-maker, and gives it guidance as to what it should do to make a valid decision next. It follows that the same decision can be made a second time, though more accurately and more transparently.

The court’s decision will only be exercised on limited grounds, e.g. if the decision-maker has acted outside its powers, irrationality, unreasonableness to the extent that no reasonable decision-maker could have made it, taking into account irrelevant considerations, failing to address important issues, gross unfairness or apparent lack of impartiality.

Even if the court determines that the decision is unlawful for one of these reasons, the court does have a discretion not to quash the decision, and an award of costs is likely to be made in favour of the public authority.

Judicial review applications must almost invariably be made within three months of the decision complained of, and must be brought as soon as possible in any event: delay can be fatal. Notice of intended challenge should be given immediately to the public body concerned, and copied to any interested parties who may otherwise be able to claim that they did not know of the challenge and were prejudiced.



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