Our legal system in Northern Ireland plays a primary role in ensuring that individual rights are protected within our society.  As such, the decisions of our government, local authorities and other public bodies are all able to be challenged via our Court system if it can be shown that the decision made was unlawful.  The process of challenging such decision is known as Judicial Review.

What is Judicial Review? 

Judicial Review is a fundamental mechanism to allow individuals to take public bodies to task, including, but not limited to:

  • Government Departments and Ministers

  • Local authorities and NHS Trusts

  • Schools and school-governing bodies

  • Private companies carrying out public functions (for example, privately owned utility companies or companies providing benefits assessment services)

Judicial Review provides important clarity on legal issues and helps Judges to develop the law.   Judicial Review is not concerned with re-hearing the facts of the case, but rather the law surrounding it.  It holds public bodies to account and ensure they act fairly and lawfully. It gives vulnerable people a voice and allows them to advocate for their rights. 

On what basis can I judicially review a decision?

Judicial Review proceedings can be issued on the following grounds:

  • If the public body has acted outside its powers

  • If the decision made by the public body was irrational, unfair or biased

  • If there has been a procedural impropriety

  • If the decision made by the public body breaches Human Rights or European Law

Is there a time limit attached to Judicial Review?

Normally, a person must issue Judicial Review proceedings within 3 months from the date of decision made.  It is therefore it is vital to seek legal advice as soon as possible - ideally as soon as you have received the decision you wish to challenge.

Is Legal Aid available for Judicial Review?

Depending on both the merits of your case and your financial circumstances, you may be eligible for Legal Aid in respect of Judicial Review proceedings.  Francis Hanna & Co is also a member of the PILS Project meaning that we can apply for funding or support in cases advancing equality and human rights which are of public interest, where clients are not eligible for legal aid.

Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors have acted in landmark Judicial Review proceedings in relation to many different aspects of the law.  We have the knowledge, skills and experience to assist you in this important area of law.   For a free, no obligation discussion, contact us on 028 9024 3901 or email Laura Banks on lbanks@fhanna.co.uk.