Over the next few months, the recently announced Independent Review of Administrative Law will examine the need for reform of judicial review.

Judicial review exists to ensure that public authorities act lawfully, that citizens are treated fairly and according to the law, and that high standards of governance are maintained; these are fundamental and cherished features of UK democracy and of the Rule of Law which it is the duty of the Lord Chancellor to uphold.

This process of reform is, therefore, a very serious undertaking. If approached in the right way, it could be an opportunity make judicial review more accessible and effective and to ensure that citizens see better governance and greater accountability.

The terms of reference for the review published on Friday, however, falsely posit judicial review as somehow opposed to good governance under the law. The purpose of judicial review is not only to protect citizens from unlawfulness, it also ensures the accountability of government, which means better standards of governance and more efficient, higher quality decision-making.

The use of robust empirical evidence in this period of reform will be critical.

The Government has rightly given the panel a strong steer as to the importance of examining data and evidence as part of this review. This is in line with the Government’s stated support for evidence-based policy making, particularly in relation to justice reform.

Such an approach demands high standards in terms of evidence and data and all available empirical evidence should be referred to. There is, however, at present a notable deficit in relevant, authoritative data about judicial review, both in terms of procedure and judicial decision-making. It should also be noted that some of the terms of reference for the Independent Review asks questions for which there is little evidence.

It will be important that this process of reform identifies where evidence gaps exist and ensures that steps are taken to acquire the necessary data. The consequences of poorly evidenced reforms are all too-well documented.

The Public Law Project has over 30 years’ experience working with individuals who have suffered the consequences of poor administration and through training, research and casework, we consistently promote the use of judicial review to support and promote good governance.

Over the coming months, Public Law Project will be drawing on that experience to inform this process of review.