Judicial review

1. In England and Wales, the High Court has the power to review the decisions of public authorities, including government departments, local councils, and other bodies exercising public functions, through a process known as judicial review.


2. When considering an application for judicial review, the High Court applies a number of principles to determine whether the decision in question was legally valid. These principles include:

  1. legality, 
  2. rationality, 
  3. fairness. 
  4. proportionality, 
  5. legitimate expectation. 


3. The decision must be in accordance with the law, including statutory powers and duties, and must not be ultra vires (beyond the powers) of the decision-making body.


4. The decision must be based on reasonable grounds and must not be irrational, capricious, or Wednesbury unreasonable (i.e., so unreasonable that no reasonable person could have reached the same conclusion).


5. The decision-making process must be fair and must comply with the principles of natural justice, including the right to be heard and the right to a fair and impartial hearing.


6. The decision must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and must not disproportionately interfere with the rights of the applicant or other individuals or organisations.

Legitimate expectation

7. If the applicant had a legitimate expectation that a particular decision would be made, the decision-making body must take this into account and must not act in a way that is contrary to that expectation unless there are good reasons to do so.

Other factors

8. These principles are not exhaustive and the High Court may consider other factors as well when reviewing a decision.

9. The court’s role in judicial review is not to decide whether the original decision was the right one, but rather to ensure that it was made in accordance with the law and principles of fairness.

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