Lord Edward Faulks QC, a former Conservative Justice Minister who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Supreme Court, has been appointed to head a commission on the reform of the Judicial Review process.
Judicial Review is the means by which citizens can hold power to account when the government breaks the law. It was famously used to overturn Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament last year, but has also been a powerful mechanism for workers and unions.
For instance, in 2017, Unison used the Judicial Review process to successfully challenge the government’s implementation of Employment Tribunal fees, which saw workers charged with up to £2,500 to access justice when their employers breached the law.
Writing for the Conservative Home website earlier this year, Lord Faulks bemoaned the unanimous decision of Supreme Court judges that Johnson’s prorogation was unlawful, and proposed legislation to limit the powers of the Court in the future.
“While they are at it, Parliament might want to legislate to protect other, related prerogative powers,” he said, opening up the possibility for government to remove other checks and balances.
On Friday (31 July 2020), the Ministry of Justice announced its appointment of what it called an “independent” panel, headed by Lord Faulks.
The Commission will consider writing the terms of Judicial Review into law, whether judges should be able to deem government actions as unlawful, the scope of grounds and remedies available to citizens attempting to hold the government to account, and other procedural factors such as the appeal process.