PLP’s challenge to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over unpublished evidence on judicial review will be heard by the First-Tier Tribunal today (Friday 25 February) and Monday 28 February.

PLP is appealing the ICO’s decision not to require the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to disclose evidence submitted by central government departments to the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL), the panel which preceded Government proposals on judicial review.

Jo Hickman, Director, Public Law Project said:

“There is a clear public interest in publishing the evidence submitted by individual Government departments to the Independent Review of Administrative Law.

“The Judicial Review and Courts Bill seeks to restrict how this and future governments can be held to account. Public and parliamentary debate on the Bill should, at the very least, be informed by all available evidence.

“There is limited published information about the cost of judicial review to government, its impact on government departments, and how departments experience the positive effect it has been shown to have on the quality and lawfulness of public decision-making. 

“Transparency in law-making is vital, particularly when the laws in question will restrict accountability, possibly for many years to come. Ensuring that all relevant evidence is publicly available will help Parliament to make better law.”

Read Monidipa Fouzda in the Law Society Gazette on how the first stage of the hearing unfolded.

The Law Society Gazette also reported in December:

IRAL’s call for evidence contained questions specifically for government departments. The document said responses would feed into a final report but confidentiality could not be assured. It highlighted a statutory code of practice under the Freedom of Information Act with which public authorities must comply.

Over a dozen Whitehall departments, including the Home Office and 10 Downing Street, rejected the Gazette‘s Freedom of Information requests to publish their full submissions to IRAL’s call for evidence. The MoJ published a 21-page summary document three weeks before its controversial Judicial Review Reform consultation closed.

In April, the MoJ rejected PLP’s freedom of information request to publish the full Whitehall submissions. PLP complained to the ICO in August. Last month the ICO decided not to uphold PLP’s complaint.

Read PLP’s post of December 2021