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Last rampart against government excesses

With a majority in parliament, government can pass any law it likes, but it cannot discount the power of senior judges if it goes too far

22 November 2013

A new front has opened in the opposition to the proposed judicial review reforms. This time, the arguments are not based on access to justice and depriving the most vulnerable in society from exercising their rights but on whether the reforms would unsettle the constitutional covenant between the executive, parliament, and the judiciary.

Barrister Amy Street, of Serjeants Inn Chambers, is also research director at The Constitution Society. Earlier this week she published her report on judicial review and the rule of law. The main question, she suggests, is whether the courts derive their judicial review jurisdiction from parliament or from the constitutional principle of the rule of law. If the latter, they could feel justified in not applying the will of parliament.

The first round of reforms was steamrolled into law and came into force in the summer. They were tame compared with the second set of proposals, which would require, among other things, that applicants h...

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