What we do

Judicial review and public law

Forthcoming event

Jamie Potter speaker at Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers Commercial Judicial review update

Date:

12 May 2014

Location:

54 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LS

Full details

What clients say..

What is public law?

Every day many thousands of decisions are made by people acting on behalf of public bodies. The decision-maker may be a minister in central government, a regulator, a committee of local councillors, a quango, a NHS Trust, a police officer, CPS prosecutor, a school or university and the impact on us can be profound. 

This is why it is important that we can hold public bodies to account and challenge them when things go wrong.  Judicial review is the main tool that enables us to do this. It is the Court process which examines whether decision makers have acted fairly, in good faith, rationally and only using the powers that they have for their proper purposes.  These are the ‘public law’ principles that every public decision maker should abide by. 

It is also important that decision makers do not breach laws such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 - they help to ensure that fundamental freedoms are not overridden and that characteristics fundamental to our identity, like race, gender, sexuality and disability, are respected and do not influence officials’ policies or actions without good reason. 

Taking advice and legal action

If you suspect that a significant unlawful decision is about to be made, or already has been, legal advice should be sought as soon as possible. 

With the right advice, individuals and representative groups can make sure their voices are heard and properly taken into account. A specialist public law solicitor can often put a public authority back on the right track. Officials may be persuaded to change their minds through a powerfully worded letter, complaint or internal appeal.

And where things go seriously wrong, an expert solicitor can act decisively to challenge a public authority and bring about real accountability using judicial review. Judicial review can also lead to bad decisions being overturned and to authoritative rulings on the legality of policies, rules and procedures. Serious delay can be brought to an end. Judicial review can develop the law and help others.

Act quickly

It is very important that you act quickly if wish to bring a judicial review case against a public body. The timeframes are very short indeed - most cases must be brought both promptly and within three months of the decision, but some, such as planning, environmental and procurement cases may need to be brought within six weeks. 

How can Bindmans’ specialists help?

Bindmans was founded in 1974.  One of our founding principles was to ensure that our clients have specialist advice and representation that will always be a match for the legal teams acting for public authorities.  This principle is just as important to us today.  We are the only solicitors firm which has specialised in public law work for over 30 years. 

We represent a wide range of clients in public law cases, including:

  • individuals;
  • companies;
  • action and campaigning groups;
  • charities;
  • arts organisations;
  • other NGOs;
  • professional associations; 
  • press organisations;
  • unions;
  • health service practitioners and social care providers;
  • nurseries, schools and colleges; and
  • regulators.

We take cases under Legal Aid when available, as well as with private funding, fixed fees and group funding arrangements (click here to visit our webpage about funding your case).

Making a difference

Most important of all, our work has made a real difference to our clients, for example:  

  • overturning government refusals to properly investigate wrongdoing, hold public inquiries or accept the findings of investigatory bodies;
  • securing NHS treatment which had previously been refused, including withholding of medicine and specialist care;
  • overturning refusals to prosecute criminals on behalf of victims of crime and ensuring their voices are heard in the process;
  • challenging cautions and unlawful prosecutions on behalf of those accused of crimes;
  • challenging a wide range of unlawful police practices including arrests and searches, attempts to curtail the rights of protestors, and policies enabling indefinite retention of DNA and personal information;
  • challenging the lawfulness of immigration detention;
  • challenging unlawful Home Office policies;
  • obtaining  social care within the home and residential care for adults and children;
  • preventing residential care home closures;
  • refusals to properly investigate wrongdoing, hold public inquiries or accept the findings of investigatory bodies;
  • challenging unlawful licensing decisions on behalf of disabled people;
  • preventing local authority, NHS and Arts Council funding cuts and reorganisations; 
  • championing animal welfare and challenging unnecessary culls; 
  • challenging discriminatory compensation arrangements for internment camp survivors; 
  • challenging planning and environmental decisions on behalf of local people and community organisations;
  • challenging discriminatory contracting arrangements for Legal Aid; and
  • challenging unfair procurement processes.

These are just examples. If you have a public law problem involving any public authority, please do get in touch. We will see what we can do to help.

Our work for regulators

We also have wide experience advising regulatory and organisational clients on public law cases, helping them get the law right and make fair decisions. We also offer bespoke training. Please see our regulatory and public procurement webpage for further information.

 

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