Justice – Advancing access to justice, human rights and the rule of law
This week JUSTICE joined a group of prominent UK and international NGOs in writing to the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (“ISC”), to indicate that we would not be participating in their inquiry on the treatment of detainees alleged to have been tortured.
While we are concerned that these allegations must be properly investigated – in keeping with the UK’s obligations in international law – the ISC, like the Gibson inquiry before it, lacks the powers or the independence necessary to complete such an investigation.
Read our letter to the ISC, here.
Read our earlier correspondence on the Gibson inquiry, here.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Today JUSTICE joins charities representing children and older people, people with disabilities, bereaved families and victims of torture; and organisations working on issues as diverse as housing, fair treatment at work and in healthcare, freedom of expression and privacy online to call on Peers to vote against significant restrictions to judicial review in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Judicial review is a legal process by which individuals can challenge decisions made by public authorities on the basis that they are unlawful, irrational, unfair or disproportionate. It is a directly accessible check on abuse of power, a means of holding the executive to account, increasing transparency, and of providing redress when public agencies and central Government act unlawfully. Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill proposes significant restrictions on the procedure for judicial review.
The effect of these proposals will be to suppress legitimate challenge; limit judges’ discretion to act in the public interest and shield public agencies from effective oversight.
Andrea Coomber, Director of JUSTICE said:
“Judicial review is one of the very few means we can challenge public bodies and Government departments which act unlawfully. We should all be watchdogs when the Government tries to rewrite the rules in its favour. Pressing ahead with these changes will shield Government – big and small – from scrutiny, will deprive individuals without means of an often much-needed remedy and will undermine the rule of law. MPs and Peers must act now. The ballot box should not be the only realistic remedy for unlawful public action.”
These proposals are not principally about the law or lawyers. They will affect decisions about the countryside, about schools, hospitals, our armed forces, police and security services; about housing, healthcare, education and transport. Ultimately these changes will affect how and whether Government will abide by the rules which Parliament sets.
The proposals will be debated in the Lords on 22 or 27 October 2014. JUSTICE encourages all Peers to support amendments tabled by Lord Pannick and others, designed to preserve the discretion of the court which may ensure that judicial review remains open to individuals without means and those who litigate in the public interest.
Read the Joint NGO Briefing for the House of Lords Report Stage, here.
Full JUSTICE briefing on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is available here.
Hosted by Lord Justice Laws and Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC in the Great Hall at Inner Temple.
We’re pleased to report that our JUSTICE staff who took part in the Back 2 the Trenches mud run on Sunday made it back in one piece. They did a fantastic job running 5km and 10km through mud, water, fire and all manner of other obstacles to raise money for the JUSTICE internship programme.
JUSTICE offers paid internships in the summer and winter each year, giving law graduates - regardless of their background or financial means - the opportunity to gain practical experience working on law reform and human rights at a national level and providing valuable assistance to the JUSTICE legal team.
Thank you to everyone who has already donated - especially our suppliers who generously sponsored us: Utilize, Paper-round and Service Master London. The fundraising page will be open for the rest of the week for anyone still wanting to donate; your money does make a difference. Simply click here to donate to the JUSTICE Team and give what you can.
JUSTICE will be hosting fringe events at the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences this autumn.
|Labour Party Conference||24th September|
|Conservative Party Conference||30th September|
|Liberal Democrat Party Conference||6th October|
Join us for refreshments and discussion as we explore legal concerns arising from the agendas of the main political parties. The events are free and open to all party conference delegates with passes for the secure zone of the respective conferences.
For more details about the events go to our Events page.