In an ideal world, the decisions made by public bodies would be fair and reasonable. However, sometimes a decision is perverse, the steps leading up to it were unfair or they simply weren’t carried out in line with the published procedure. If such decisions go unchallenged, they can be very damaging to your business.
When a decision like this has an impact on your business, you can take action by seeking a judicial review (commonly known as JR). Judicial review is a formal legal process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions made by public bodies. The court will examine whether the decision was made correctly and whether the correct procedure was followed, rather than the merits of the decision itself. In the healthcare sector, the recent examples of judicial reviews relate to decisions by local authorities to decrease fees or not increase them. There have also been some recent judicial review actions against CQC in respect of the contents of inspection reports, such as SSP Health Ltd v CQC.
How can our judicial review solicitors help?
Our solicitors can help you protect your business against such decisions. We have experience of judicial reviews and litigation relating to human rights and the right to life, liberty and a private life to the extent as it applies to care providers. We also have experience of judicial review claims against local authorities in respect of the fees they pay to care providers.
Whatever the decision you seek to challenge, we are here to help.
What is the judicial review process?
If you are considering commencing judicial review proceedings, you need to act very quickly and obtain legal advice urgently.
There are strict deadlines for judicial reviews proceedings.
Firstly, you need to follow the pre-action protocol by writing a formal letter before action to the body you wish to challenge, setting out your complaint and requiring a response from them. You should normally allow 14 days for a response. If the response is unsatisfactory, you can start the judicial review process.
You will first need to apply to the court for permission to formally start the judicial review proceedings. This stage is a mini court process in itself.
Most importantly, you must apply for permission promptly and, in any event, within three months of the decision you are challenging. The courts apply this deadline strictly and even if the application is submitted within three months of the decision, the court can still refuse permission if it thinks you did not make the application soon enough.
It is therefore crucial that you seek urgent legal advice as soon as possible if you want to explore the option of a judicial review claim.
If you are granted permission, a timetable will be set by the court leading to the full hearing. Sometimes cases can be settled before reaching the full hearing.
If successful at a final hearing, the court can make various orders. For example, it can quash the decision you have challenged, but it cannot change the decision made by the body. Instead, it can declare the decision to be void and require the body to make the decision again following the correct process.