Legal aid remains available for many Judicial Review cases provided that a person meets both the financial means and merits requirements. Without legal aid it is very expensive to bring an action in the High Court (It is not unusual for the litigation to cost upwards of £25,000 and if unsuccessful the claimant is likely to be ordered by the Court to pay the defendant’s costs as well as having to pay their own solicitor’s costs). However, where your client is eligible for legal aid, their own legal costs will be paid for by the Legal Aid Agency as will generally the defendant’s costs if the legal case is unsuccessful. See the Public Law Project website for more information. This should not therefore prevent your client from pursuing their case, providing they can secure representation. But as previously stated, the matter should usually be resolved at the pre-action stage.
The Administrative Court deals with the majority of its work at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but there are also regional centres in Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester (though papers cannot be lodged at Bristol).
20% of the work of the Administrative Court is carried out in these regional centres. Cases of real importance, often where the issue is of particular local interest, are routinely heard in the courts outside London, ensuring people are able to see matters decided within their local area.
What orders can the court make?
In the event that the matter is not resolved at the pre-action stage and your client secures legal representation and pursues court action, what can the court do?
Remedies on Judicial Review are entirely discretionary. This means that even if you succeed in showing that a decision-maker has acted unlawfully, the Court may still decline to grant a remedy if it would not be appropriate. This might be, for example, because the error made no difference to the outcome of the decision or because the claimant’s own conduct was objectionable.
The main difference with remedies in a Tribunal appeal is that the Court in a Judicial Review claim is not generally there to remake the original decision as though it were the decision maker, even where it finds that original decision is unlawful.
A. QUASHING ORDER
This deprives the original decision of all legal effect; it is as if no decision had been made. The court can order the decision-maker to go through the decision-making process again, but this time correctly.
B. MANDATORY ORDER
This order requires a decision-maker to perform its legal duties if it is refusing or failing to do so. E.g. where a local authority is failing to make decisions to pay interim payments under reg. 91 HB Regulations.
C. PROHIBITING ORDER
This order is like a quashing order but operates at an earlier stage - i.e. before the decision that is being challenged is actually made, and preventing a particular decision from being made.
This is a temporary order from the Court to a person or body telling them either:-
(1) not to do something; or
(2) to do it
until the legal claim has actually been decided.
In either case, disobedience or failure to comply is a contempt of Court and can be punished by a fine, imprisonment or by sequestration of assets.
An injunction may be issued for example compelling payment of benefit, particularly payments on account of housing benefit where the tenant is under an immediate threat of having the tenancy repossessed by a private landlord; or to get a local authority to provide an emergency payment under its local welfare scheme.
E. DECLARATORY RELIEF
This is an authoritative and binding statement of the parties' legal rights. It does not directly order anyone to do anything. This might be used to declare how certain legislation is to be interpreted, to confirm the unlawfulness of past conduct, or where there are grounds for a quashing order, but the Court refuses to exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant.
Damages are usually only awarded where there has been a breach of the Human Rights Act.