CJC bill back in the Lords


Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – Judicial Review – back to the House of Lords on 9 December 2014


On 27 October the Lords passed a number of positive amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.  The Bill is returned to the House of Commons on 1 December and the government overturned the Lords’ changes. Now the bill will go back to the House of Lords on Tuesday 9 December.


Part 4 of this Bill proposed significant restrictions on the procedure for judicial review.  In the last debate on this Bill in the House of Lords on 27 October, Peers from all parties recognised the potentially devastating impact these proposals could have on the rule of law and access to justice. A series of amendments laid by Lord Pannick were passed with large majorities.  As the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, stated in the debate, ‘judicial review is the final resort available to the citizen to protect himself against unlawful action’.  


Attached to this news article are briefings by Justice and a group of NGOs and charities which may be of help to explain the Bill further.


Please ask any peers you are in touch with to attend the consideration of the bill on 9 December and vote in favour of them. If you need inspiration for your email please see the draft text below. If you have any questions we can help with please email: ylalinfo@gmail.com.


DRAFT EMAIL (Please personalise if you can)


Dear [NAME]


I am writing as a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers to urge you to attend the debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday 9 December 2014. This relates to judicial review.


As you will be aware, this week the House of Commons rejected the amendments made by the House of Lords on 27 October, voting instead for a concession offered by Chris Grayling which means interveners would be liable for costs if their evidence and representations have not been of significant assistance to the court or if the intervener has behaved ‘unreasonably’ or included a ‘significant amount’ of ‘unnecessary’ evidence. 


We say this will still have a chilling effect on judicial review because it will deter interveners from taking on serious costs risks. In fact, creating an absolute duty on the courts to award costs in ill-defined and uncertain circumstances may be even worse than the original proposal. The one amendment offered by the Government on interveners will not ameliorate the chilling effect of the provision as trustees will inevitably fear heavy financial penalties at the end of a case given the uncertainties of litigation. For example, the Howard League for Penal Reform intervened to assist the court in a case about appropriate adults at the police station brought by Just for Kids Law. This was at their own expense and to add value to the case. They took great care not to duplicate the Claimant’s case and focused on common law arguments supporting the notion that a 17 year old child ought to have an appropriate adult as of right. The Court accepted these arguments as compelling and they, along with the international law arguments put forward by Coram Children’s Legal Centre, assisted the Court in forming its final decision that 17 year olds should be treated as children at the police station. As a result of this case the Home Office implemented changes to ensure all 17 year olds get appropriate adults at the police station. Yet under the new provisions, the Howard League would be exposing themselves to considerable financial risk to assist the Court in such a way. All this in addition to bearing their own costs.


Chris Grayling cannot understand why the House of Lords has taken such a strong stance on this issue, saying that judicial review was never intended to be a tool for pressure groups to seek to disrupt perfectly lawful decision making in Government and Parliament. As constitutional and administrative law professor Dr Mark Elliot subsequently pointed out, it is of course the purpose of judicial review only to prevent unlawful decision-making and the courts’ ability to do so is one of the cornerstones of our constitution. That is what the Lords were defending, listening to key figures from the senior judiciary and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which said there is no evidence to support the case for reform a
nd that the proposals threaten the rule of law. 


As junior members of the profession we are particularly concerned about the risk posed by the Government’s proposals to the future of our country and the justice system in which we strongly believe. We are very grateful for your strength and support on this vital constitutional issue.


We urge all peers to support the Lords amendments to Part 4, reject the Commons disagreements, and oppose the Government amendments in lieu ((a) – (e)), to safeguard access to justice and the accountability of the executive for wrongful decisions that in many instances have extremely damaging effects on vulnerable individuals. The proposed amendments can be viewed here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2014-2015/0065/amend/am065-a.htm


The joint NGO briefing and JUSTICE’s briefing on the new amendment on interveners put forward by the Government can be found here:






Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email. If I can be of any further assistance to you or provide any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Yours sincerely



Young Legal Aid Lawyers