Judicial Review in the UK

Essay by lewiscolinUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, May 2007

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The role of the courts in judicial review is to ensure that Public authorities act lawfully; all such authorities are subject to the rule of law and are not permitted to act ‘ultra vires’ (beyond their powers). The power that authorities have comes from powers granted to that authority by statute or delegated legislation. The Human Rights Act 1988 (HRA) created an additional ground s6(1) making it unlawful for public bodies to act in a way that is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. (ECHR)Since the seventeenth century, in the Case of Monopolies 1602 77 ER 1260 the courts have claimed the authority to inquire into the extent and limits of the Crown’s common law prerogative powers. Since 1700, the role of the courts in reviewing administrative and judicial decisions has been explained on the basis of the rule of law whereby any Act or decision was invalid because it was in breach of or unauthorised by the law, or was beyond the scope of the power given to the decision maker by the law.

Judicial review is limited to the examination of executive decision and delegated decision; it is a constitutional function of the High Court to ensure that public bodies do not act unlawfully. It acts not in order to give effect to any private rights of the individual who made the application but in order to fulfil the role. It is the examination of a legal decision by a public body and it is not an appeal whereby a decision maybe substituted but a review of that decision only. Judicial review is only concerned with the lawfulness and not with the merits of a decision. Attorney General v Fulham Corporation, ex relatione Yapp [1921] whereby the High Court granted a declaration that the council had...