How does it work?

Judicial Review can provide a ‘quick win’ in cases of poor decision making and delays by public bodies. It is also the route to challenge unfair or unjust and ultimately unlawful legislation. This section will primarily deal with the ‘quick win’ scenarios which advisers may find useful on a day-to-day basis.


Promptly, and well within 3 months of the matter being challenged, a pre-action protocol letter must be sent to the defendant setting out (as detailed in Annex A of the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review at CPR 54):

  • Proposed claim for Judicial Review (i.e. head up the letter clearly as a proposed claim)
  • The claimant’s details (name, address, dob, NINo)
  • The defendant’s reference details for the claimant (if any)
  • Summary of the act or omission being challenged
  • Background facts
  • Relevant legal principles and why it is contended that the act of omission is wrong
  • Why Judicial Review is the appropriate remedy (only relevant where other remedies do exist but are considered ineffective)
  • The details of the action that the defendant is expected to take to remedy the situation
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution proposals
  • The details of any information sought
  • The details of any documents that are considered relevant and are being supplied with the letter
  • The address for reply and service of court documents
  • Proposed reply date (usually 14 days)

CPAG have produced a number of pre-action protocol template letters which you may find of use and you can access here.

These cover the following areas:

  • Refusal to pay UC without a National Insurance Number (for non UK nationals and refugees)
  • Refusal of the carer element in UC when a new claim is made to UC following the death of a partner or person cared for and the claimant is receiving a Carers Allowance run-on
  • Refusal to accept a late Tax Credit Mandatory Reconsideration request
  • Ineligibility for 52 week HB or 13 week UC protection on bereavement from bedroom tax when a new claim is made to UC as a result of bereavement

This list is being constantly updated, so please check back if you cannot find the letter you are looking for, or contact us to see if it is something we are planning to produce: [email protected]. You can also contact us if you would like assistance preparing your pre-action protocol letter or advice on the merits of your case.

The defendant should reply within 14 days. Where the matter contested is a delay or refusal to act under a statutory duty, this response will often resolve the matter. You can also ask for a response in a shorter period where the matter is urgent e.g. because of the hardship being caused to your client.

If they respond and do not change the decision and you do not agree with their reasons, you can reply providing more information and further arguments (as many times as you like!) and still be within the ‘pre-action’ stage so there is no cost implication.

If they reply and do not change the decision and you have no further or different arguments to make in response, and your client wants to pursue the matter, you will need to refer it to a solicitor. You can find a network of solicitors you can make referrals to here.

Read more about what to do if your client wants to take the matter to court