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Judicial Reviews


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Judicial Reviews

  1. 1. 1 SOUTH WEST EQUALITY NETWORK 26 JUNE 2014 JUDICIAL REVIEW WORKSHOP CASE STUDY/SCENARIO Aileen McColgan, Matrix Chambers Reductions in the overall budget at Medford County Council have meant that significant savings have to be made. The County is made up of a mixture of rural and urban areas, the urban areas being relatively affluent with no particularly significant areas of deprivation while there are a variety of very affluent and other rural areas with some pockets of significant deprivation. An executive committee is created within Children and Young Persons’ Services to decide and implement savings of 15% of the overall Children and Young Persons’ Services budget. The Committee decided to slash funding previously provided to youth clubs across the county by completely ceasing funding to 50% of the 60 clubs while leaving the funding of the remaining clubs unaffected. The decision was made, on 23 March, by means of selecting the names of the clubs which would lose funding from a hat. On 27 March the Council notified the clubs from which funding was to be entirely withdrawn of this fact, the funding to be withdrawn as of 1 April the same year. On 26 May an LBA is received from one of the youth clubs (Club X) whose funding has been removed, challenging the fairness of the decision. The letter suggests that the decision was taken in a procedurally unfair manner in that no consultation occurred as to the criteria for selection. It sought information as to the basis of the decision, and on the analysis undertaken by the decision-makers of the equality implications of the decision. Club X is based in an affluent urban area. The LBA comes to your attention and you are asked to advise as to the best course of action. What should be done? In devising your answer, take account of the following: (1) The obligation of procedural fairness on the Council; (2) The possible relevance of the PSED; (3) The defensibility of the criteria adopted for the decision; (4) The suitability of Club X as a potential Claimant.
  2. 2. 2 In the event the Council decides to maintain the decision and responds in such terms to the solicitors representing the youth club. On 26 June the Council is served with an application for judicial review which challenges the decision to terminate funding to Club Y, which is in a deprived rural neighbourhood. The challenge is brought on behalf of a white young person, an occasional user of Club Y, who is represented by the same solicitors which wrote the LBA on behalf of Club X. The application for judicial review states that the bulk of the youth clubs selected for closure were in rural areas (whereas slightly fewer than half of all the clubs in the County were in such areas), and that BAME youth in Medford County Council are disproportionately found in rural areas. It challenges the decision to stop funding to Club Y on the grounds that the Council: (1) adopted irrational criteria for its decision, and (2) failed to comply with the PSED. You are asked to advise as to next steps. What should be done? In devising your answer, take account of the following: (1) the suitability of the Claimant as a challenger; (2) merits of the claim; (3) assuming that the relevant provisions of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014 (extracted below) are in force. PART 4 JUDICIAL REVIEW Judicial review in the High Court and Upper Tribunal Likelihood of substantially different outcome for applicant (1) In section 31 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (applications for judicial review), after subsection (2) insert— “(2A) The High Court— (a) must refuse to grant relief on an application for judicial review, and (b) may not make an award under subsection (4) on such an application, if it appears to the court to be highly likely that the outcome for the applicant would not have been substantially different if the conduct complained of had not occurred.” (2) In that section, before subsection (4) insert— “(3B) When considering whether to grant leave to make an application for judicial review, the High Court— (a) may of its own motion consider whether the outcome for the applicant would have been substantially different if the conduct complained of had not occurred, and (b) must consider that question if the defendant asks it to do so. (3C) If, on considering that question, it appears to the High Court to be highly likely that the outcome for the applicant would not have been substantially different, the court must refuse to grant leave.”