Judicial reviews have been used to successfully challenge decisions made by government and other agencies in key areas. Here are some recent examples.
In 2016, the High Court ruled that Parliament must give its consent before the government could trigger Article 50 and officially kick off Brexit, prompting criticism from ministers and the Daily Mail’s infamous headline ‘Enemies of the People’. . The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court, which in 2019 ruled that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament during the Brexit crisis was unlawful, again angering the government.
In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees of up to £1,200 were incompatible with access to justice, forcing the Ministry of Justice to scrap the fee and entitling those who had it already paid for a refund. In the judicial review brought by the union Unison, judges also concluded that the charges breached the Equality Act 2010 as they disproportionately affected women.
Words of Worboys
Three High Court judges have forced the Parole Board to reconsider its controversial decision to release serial sex offender John Worboys from prison after a case brought by two unnamed victims. In its 2018 ruling, the judges said the board committee should have considered all of the circumstances of Worboys’ breach. He was jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum sentence of eight years after being found guilty of 19 offences, but police believe he committed crimes against 105 women between 2002 and 2008, when he was arrested. It was a rare case where the government backed the judicial review decision with parole board chairman Nick Hardwick forced to resign following the decision after the justice secretary of the At the time, David Gauke said his position was “untenable”. A reassessment by the board concluded that Worboys should remain in jail.
The government’s attempts to impose the room tax on partners of severely disabled people, which would have reduced their housing allowance by 14% for having a ‘spare’ room, were ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 2019 The judges said applying the discount to a man named only by RR, was a violation of his right to housing under the Human Rights Act. They said RR’s partner was severely disabled, so “it’s accepted” the couple needed an extra bedroom for their medical equipment. The effect was to restore full housing benefit to RR, and at least 155 other partners of disabled people.
Facial recognition technology
The Court of Appeal ruled in 2020 that South Wales Police’s use of facial recognition technology breached privacy rights and breached the Equality Act. Ed Bridges, a civil liberties campaigner, brought the case arguing that the capture of thousands of faces by Welsh force was indiscriminate and disproportionate. Upholding his appeal, the court found that Bridges’ right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached because there was ‘too much leeway’ left to police officers in the application of technology. Judges also found the force breached its duty of equality in the public sector by failing to properly investigate whether facial recognition algorithms were biased in terms of race or gender.
‘VIP lane’ PPE
In January, the government’s operation of a ‘VIP lane’ for suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic was ruled illegal by a High Court judge, amid allegations of cronyism. Mrs Justice O’Farrell ruled in favor of the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor who together challenged the legality of how billions of pounds worth of contracts were awarded through the high priority route. However, despite ruling that the Health and Social Services Secretary’s direct award of contracts for the supply of PPE and medical devices to PestFix and Ayand was unlawful preferential treatment, the judge said he was “very likely” that they would have been awarded even if proper procedures had been followed.