It is a truth universally acknowledged that judicial review is, in the Ministry of Justice’s own words, ‘a critical check on the power of the state, providing an effective mechanism for challenging the decisions, acts or omissions of public bodies to ensure that they are lawful’ (Ministry of Justice, Judicial Review: Proposals for further reform, 2013, Cm 8703, para 1). The same is true of other public law remedies, such as statutory appeals and actions under the Human Rights Act, whereby the decisions, acts or omissions of public authorities may be challenged in the courts. This is a necessary component of the rule of law and, as famously pointed out by Lord Bingham in the Belmarsh case, the role of the judges in enforcing it is an essential part of the democratic process.

PLP Conference – Lady Hale address