Understanding the Law
May 3, 2013

Judicial Review

If you have a grievance against the state or an agent of the state, you could take action by applying to the court for relief. You may be able to get some relief from an appeal board, or you could apply for leave for judicial review. It could be that you were a civil servant who was wrongly dismissed or you were not satisfied with a decision that affects you. It may be more expedient for you to retain a lawyer because matters of this nature are not easy for the layman.{{more}} Part 56 of CPR 2000 covers the procedure for the application, but then there is a need to know the precedents, that is, the cases that have been dealt with by the court on this topic.

Without Notice Application

The application for leave could be made without notice; that is, the other side need not be informed. There are certain important requirements, however. CPR 2000 (the Rules) gives some eleven pointers, but I would only highlight a few. There must be the name and address of the applicant and the respondent, but most importantly, the grounds on which the relief is sought must be clearly stated. In addition the applicant must indicate why the route of judicial relief and not alternative relief was chosen. The applicant must show how the relief would affect him personally, as an individual could make an application of some public interest. The applicant’s application must be accompanied by an affidavit to personally verify the facts given.

Time is of the essence

You must also know that time is of the essence and any action must be taken promptly. Rule 56.5 (1) of CPR 2000 speaks about delay and delay is not in your interest, because the other side can use this against you. Some English authorities suggest 30 days. Our law would observe the time imposed by any enactment. It is expected that the applicant will be prompt, because the judge could refuse leave, if he considers that there was unreasonable delay.

Grounds for refusal

If the judge decides to refuse leave on the grounds of delay, he would have to take certain factors into consideration, pursuant to 56.5 (2) She or he may consider whether granting the relief would be likely to be “detrimental to good administration or cause substantial hardship to or substantially prejudice the rights of any person”. The matter has to be heard forthwith and this is in the first stage, which is in the form of a case management.

Browne v the Public Service Commission

The Court of appeal dealt with a matter of this nature in Browne v the Public Service Commission No 23 of 2010 (St Lucia). In that matter, the appellant appealed to the court to overturn the lower court’s decision that struck out his claim for judicial review, on the grounds of unreasonable delay. After reviewing the facts, the Appeal Court set aside the order of the judge and remitted the matter to the High Court for the judicial review.

As mentioned before, the judge could give leave for judicial relief without a hearing, but there must be certain considerations. Part 56.4 (3) stipulates that this decision must be taken in the interest of justice. If the judge considers refusing it, there might not be any need for the hearing. If it is heard, the judicial review is heard in open court and the judge may give directions for the respondent to be present and for the Attorney General to be informed.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com