Protecting your rights and challenging public authority decisions

Public law (also known as administrative law) allows the Courts to hold public authorities, such as local authorities, educational institutions, health (NHS Trusts) and Government bodies, to account and for members of the public to be able to challenge their decisions.

Every year, public authorities across the country make thousands of decisions on behalf of the public. The principles of public law mean that these authorities must act reasonably, justly and in accordance with the human rights of those affected (e.g. members of the public) when making these decisions.

Judicial review process

Through a judicial review, members of the public or companies can request that the Courts review the decisions and/or actions of an authority performing a public function.

In order to use the judicial review process, there must be no other alternative method available to resolve the dispute or all other avenues of resolution must have already been exhausted (e.g. internal complaints procedures).

There are three main grounds of judicial review claims, which are:

  • Illegality – the state authority acted outside its powers, not understood and/or applied the law correctly, or exercised its power incorrectly (e.g. not based the decision on the facts of the matter in question).
  • Procedural unfairness – the decision is unfair as the public body did not properly observe and comply with its procedural obligations, or it does not give reasons for the decision or it is biased.
  • Irrationality– the action of the public authority is irrational as it is so unreasonable that no reasonable decision-maker could have come to the same conclusion when making the decision, or the decision did not take into account relevant factors or considered irrelevant factors (sometimes referred to as the ‘Wednesbury unreasonableness’ test).

Additionally, the Courts can scrutinise whether the state authority has acted in accordance with the relevant legislation, e.g. the Equality Act 2010 or the Human Rights Act 1998.

It is important to note that there is a strict time limit in which to bring a judicial review claim, which is generally at the very latest three months from the date of the decision of the public authority. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, which require a judicial review claim to be made more urgently than that.

If the Courts decide that the public authority did not act reasonably and in accordance with public law, then the decisions can be declared unlawful. This may then mean that the decision has:

  • To be made again;
  • The public authority can be ordered by the Court to do or not do something; or
  • Damages can be awarded to the claimant/member of the public.

It is important that members of the public or companies, seeking to challenge a decision by a state authority through public law or a judicial review, obtain specialist legal advice regarding their circumstances.

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Public law and judicial reviews – how our solicitors can help

At Nelsons, our team of dispute resolution solicitors in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham are experts in public law and have many years’ experience in bringing judicial review claims on behalf of individuals, businesses and non-Governmental organisations on a broad range of public law matters.

The process of challenging a state authority decision can be a long, arduous and complex process, so it’s important to obtain experienced and specialist legal advice regarding your circumstances. Our team will guide you throughout the process, providing you with advice and support along the way.

For more information on public law and judicial review claims, please call our team of solicitors on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form for a guaranteed response.

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Find out how Nelsons can help you. Contact our friendly team for a guaranteed fast response.

For advice and support 0800 024 1976