1.4.5 Your decisions are subject to judicial review
Judicial review is a process by which a court reviews a decision made by a public body. Judicial reviews are different from appeals, in that an appeal is usually brought to challenge the outcome of a particular case. The judicial review process, on the other hand, analyses the process by which public bodies made their decision in order to decide whether or not that decision was lawful.
The judge usually won’t look at whether the decision maker made the ‘right’ decision, but will look instead at the way the decision was made, for example, whether the parties were given the chance to put their case, and whether the decision maker considered all the relevant factors. The court’s role isn’t to substitute its own decision for that of the public body. Rather it is to make sure the decision maker acted within their legal powers – in particular, that they followed the process that the law requires.
The right to apply for judicial review through the High Court is a central part of the ‘rule of law’. A core role of the courts is to enforce legal rights and obligations. Judicial review is a way of making sure that government bodies and officials, like private citizens, act within the law and not arbitrarily.
The grounds on which a High Court Judge can overturn the decision of a government decision maker include, among others, that:
- the decision maker was mistaken about the facts or about the law
- the decision maker took into account irrelevant factors, or ignored relevant factors
- the decision was made for an improper purpose
- the decision maker didn’t follow the rules of natural justice. For example, they were biased against a party, or they didn’t give a party a chance to put their side of the story.