Judicial review can be very complicated, the court
procedures are not designed to be used by people who
are not lawyers, and it is expensive. For those reasons,
you are strongly advised to get help from a specialist
lawyer if you think you have a claim. If you are on
income related benefits, or you are on a low income,
you may be able to get free advice from a solicitor.
What follows is designed to make the advice you get
easier to understand, not to replace it.
2 Whose decisions can be challenged by judicial review?
Decisions made by public bodies in a public law capacity
may be challenged by judicial review. Examples of the
public bodies whose decisions can be challenged are:
Government ministries and departments, local
authorities, health authorities, chief constables, prison
governors, some tribunals (but not if you could appeal
to a higher tribunal or court), magistrates, coroners
and county courts, boards of school governors (but not
If a public body is not exercising a public function,
for instance where it is acting as an employer, or in
a contractual relationship with a supplier, or if it acts
negligently, its actions are governed by private, not
Increasingly public functions are contracted out to
private companies. If a private company is deemed to
be exercising a public function, its acts and omissions
are governed by public law. For example a private
company that runs a prison is deemed to be exercising
a public function and so its actions in the running of the
prison are governed by public law.
3 Who can bring a judicial review?
You have to have an interest in the decision you are
challenging to bring a judicial review, or what is called
“standing”. That means you have to have sufficient
connection to the subject matter of the claim. If the
remedies the court can offer (see section 8) might
make a practical difference to you, then the test is likely
to be met.
4 Alternatives to judicial review
If there are other effective ways of challenging
decisions or delays, you are usually expected to use
those. The following may be adequate alternatives;
A statutory right of appeal against a disputed decision,
such as to a social security appeal tribunal against a
decision about your entitlement to benefit. There is
usually a strict time limit for appeal so you need to
make sure you appeal in time. You can only appeal