No Public Funding for Judicial Review without Permission
Judicial Review is a process whereby the decisions of public bodies can be challenged at court. Judicial Review is a vital means by which members of the public or organisations can have 'irrational, illegal or procedurally improper' abuses of power - such as decisions effecting the provision of social housing or education, criminal appeals, care of children or the vulnerable - overturned and looked at again.
However, recent changes to Legal Aid introduced by Chris Grayling MP have come in to force, removing Legal Aid from being available to those wishing to bring a case in Judicial Review, unless permission to do so is granted by the High Court.
Significant work is still necessary before the stage can be reached whereby lawyers can present a case to the High Court for permission, and it is likely that the High Court would only grant permission for funding to those cases where the chances of success are high and the merits of the claim are clear. Claims in Judicial Review, however, are routinely risky and often test uncharted waters. A lack of available public funds to test a case's worth at court will likely mean a reduction in the number of lawyers willing take on such cases, and a reduction in the number of cases reaching court where the chances of success are less obvious.
See the Free Movement blog for a discussion of how these changes to Legal Aid effect access to justice.