Restricting access to justice and judicial review – a legal process which allows individuals to challenge the legality of a decision of a government or another public body – would risk curtailing fundamental freedoms and human rights, Humanists UK has warned a UK Government panel examining law reform.
In its evidence to the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) Panel’s call for evidence, Humanists UK – which has led a coalition of over 100 charities, trade unions, and human rights organisations in calling for the protection of judicial review and human rights – has expressed alarm at proposals which could reduce the number of Government decisions that can be challenged in court and ‘insulate abuses of power from any legal scrutiny’.
Key aspects of Humanists UK’s response include:
- Upholding the rule of law – ‘Since at least the era of Magna Carta, a defining principle of the United Kingdom’s constitution has been the rule of law: the notion that no one, not even the Crown, is above the law, and that the law extends its protection to all… Any proposals the panel may make must therefore be squarely based on defending the rule of law’.
- Defending judicial review – ‘Judicial review does not hamper effective decision-making. Judicial review is solely focused upon ensuring that public authorities act in a lawful manner and is not only a protection from arbitrary government but in the long run promotes a system of effective governance.’
- Protecting legal aid and access to justice – ‘In an environment where judicial review has become increasingly inaccessible for most people, cuts to legal aid have priced those with modest means or from low-income backgrounds out of our justice system.’
The response concludes by urging the UK Government to expand access to legal aid, and ensure that everyone has access to justice regardless of their financial means.
Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:
‘Judicial review is an essential safeguard of individual liberty and prerequisite for any democratic society. Any proposals to weaken or undermine this foundational mechanism of justice could represent a devastating loss to the rule of law, trust in our state institutions, and for citizens’ ability to hold the Government to account. Therefore we strongly urge the Government to view any attempt at restricting judicial review with the utmost caution. Instead, we hope this review will pave the way for expanding access to justice and strengthening our human rights.’
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.