Judicial Review

Partners at Law provides specialist expert advice in the field of Judicial Review. Judicial Review is a procedure whereby decisions by public bodies and lower courts can be judicially reviewed by the High Court. 

In a Judicial Review, the Court is not concerned with the merits of the decision made by the public body or court, but rather as to whether the decision making process, arriving at such decision is lawful, for example, how the decision was made and the fairness of it . 

Judicial Review is not an appeal process and the High Court does not substitute its opinion for that of the original decision maker/decision-making body.  The High Court is concerned with how the original decision was made and whether all appropriate considerations were taken into account in the making of the decision. The High Court will also consider whether the decision-making body/decision maker had the legal capacity to make such decision.

In order to bring an application before the High Court for Judicial Review, an application is made to the High Court on an ex parte basis (the other side not being present or represented) in what is known as a Leave Application.

Documentation is filed with the Central Office of the High Court in support of the application, namely;

  • Ex parte docket;
  • Statement of Grounds;
  • Grounding Affidavit of the moving party grounding the application.

If a Leave Application is successful before the High Court, a return date will be provided by the Court and the respondent will be served with the relevant documentation. Matters will ultimately proceed by way of hearing, if contested, before the High Court, usually with both sides represented.

Common decisions which are subject to Judicial Review can be seen below;

  • Decisions of Tribunals;
  • Decisions of lower courts (District Court and Circuit Court);
  • Decisions of the planning authorities;
  • Disqualification from receiving social welfare payments;
  • Decisions of government departments;
  • Decisions of government ministers;

If an application for judicial review is successful, the Court can grant a number of reliefs/discretionary remedies;

  • Certiorari- the Court may set aside or quash the unlawful act;
  • Prohibition- the Court prohibits the decision maker from acting unlawfully;
  • Mandamus- the Court compels the decision maker to perform a legal duty of a public nature;
  • Damages

 

Time Limits apply in relation to Judicial Review proceedings;

Rules of Court provide that Judicial Review proceedings must be brought within three months from the date when grounds for the application first arose (the decision at issue). This time limit can be extended in certain circumstances if the Court can see good and sufficient reason to do so. Depending on the type of decision being challenged, shorter time limits apply in certain circumstances and having regard to certain legislation. Judicial Review in the likes of planning matters must be brought within eight weeks and in the likes of decisions made concerning immigration and refugee legislation, a time limit of 14 days applies. It is important to keep note of the time limits at play in respect of the decision being challenged as generally late applications will be refused by the Court.