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Judicial Reviews

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What is Judicial Review?

Judicial review allows individuals to request a court to review the legality of a State decision.

A judicial review prevents the abuse of executive power by the State and public bodies. It can allow an aggrieved person to take action against the decision of a public body. However, this only applies if there is a ‘public law’ element to this decision.

What is a ‘Public Law’ Element?

The ‘public law’ element is a requirement to an action in judicial review against a decision of a public body.

Examples of a public law decisions are;

  • Decisions of the District and Circuit Courts
  • Inquest verdicts
  • Decisions of tribunals
  • Disqualification from receiving social welfare payments
  • Refusals of an Irish passport, marriage certificate, or visa
  • Decisions to deport asylum-seekers
  • Decisions of An Bord Pleanála relating to planning permission
  • Decisions of Government bodies that require an Environmental Impact Assessment and/or an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence.
  • Decisions of the Legal Aid Board and the Law Society.
  • Decisions of a public administrative body relating to the environment.

Who Can I Bring My Case Against?

You can bring judicial review proceedings against decisions of Government departments, planning authorities, tribunals, inferior courts, and regulatory bodies, amongst others.

A Basic Principle of Judicial Review

A basic principle of judicial review is that the High Court is concerned only with how the public body made its decision. They will focus on how this body exercised its powers in coming to this decision.

The court is not concerned with the fairness or merits of the decision itself. Judicial review is, therefore, not concerned with a particular decision. It is concerned with the decision-making process, and whether proper procedures were followed in coming to the relevant decision.

There is one more important thing to consider. Any procedural appeals to a particular decision must be exhausted before initiating a judicial review action.

Are There Time Limits on Judicial Review Actions?

The short answer is Yes! Time is of the essence in bringing a judicial review action because strict time limits apply. Applicants can be refused the opportunity to bring an action in judicial review if they fail to act promptly.

You must bring judicial review actions before a court within three months from when grounds for the application first arose. In certain areas, the time limit is less than three months from the date on which grounds first arose.

It should be noted that a court can extend the three-month time limit in certain instances. Extensions to the time limit can be given if:

  • There is good and sufficient reason for doing so, and;
  • The circumstances responsible for a late application were outside your control or you could not reasonably have anticipated them.

Time limits are less than 3 months in certain areas, including planning, pollution control, asylum and company takeovers, amongst others.

 How Do I Take a Judicial Review in Ireland?

There is a two-step process to securing permission – or “leave” – to bring a judicial review action. The first step is to apply for “leave” in the High Court. This initial stage is somewhat of a screening process to prevent court time being wasted by frivolous or vexatious cases.

Initial leave applications are often heard without representatives from the opposing side. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have a ‘sufficient interest’ in the matter, in order to be successfully granted leave.

If leave for judicial review is successfully granted in court, the second step is the substantive hearing of the case

Which Court Hears Judicial Review Actions?

Judicial review proceedings generally begin in the High Court. In certain cases, and if deemed an appropriate case, they can be heard in the ‘fast-track’ Commercial Court.

What Are The Potential Outcomes of a Judicial Review Action?

A court may grant interim (or temporary) relief pending a final determination of the case. Interim relief may be in the form of an injunction. This injunction could be an order restraining a person from doing something, or continuing to do something. It could also be an order preventing them from doing something or a “stay” (freeze) on a decision.

It should be noted that any interim relief only lasts until the determination of the substantive case.

Ultimately, a successful outcome may result in the decision of the public body being set aside. A number of possible grounds are available to a court to come to such a decision.

It’s Important To Know …

A court cannot make a determination on behalf of a public body. Therefore, if a court sets aside a decision in a successfully argued judicial review action, it will send this decision back to the same public body to be re-made in a correct manner.

Orpen Franks – Experts in judicial review actions

Orpen Franks have a successful track record in achieving favourable outcomes for our clients in judicial review actions. If you have an inquiry about Judicial Reviews, please call us on +353 1 637 6200 or email daragh.odonovan@orpenfranks.ie

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    28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland

    Telephone: +353 1 637 6200

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    Email: law@orpenfranks.ie