CAJ has responded to the UK’s government’s Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL). This was set up following a commitment in the Conservative Party 2019 Manifesto “to consider options for reform to the process of Judicial Review”.
In our submission, we assert that it is not necessary or appropriate to seek to restrict judicial review, which plays a vital role in holding the government to account for unlawful decisions in our post conflict society. We address the importance of access to justice in a democratic society and that the rule of law is paramount.
The Independent Review of Administrative Law is taking place against a backdrop of attacks on lawyers from the most senior levels of government, and the creation of a climate of hostility towards the legal profession, something that has had lethal consequences in Northern Ireland in the past. This, together with recent attacks on the ‘vexatious’ prosecutions of historic offences in Northern Ireland, fundamentally undermines the constitutional principles of the rule of law and the separation of powers: key cornerstones of a democratic society.
Recently, a number of other measures have been taken by the present UK government that undermine the rule of law. Examples include the government unilaterally reneging on the Stormont House Agreement commitments to investigate legacy cases, as well as the introduction of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, which seeks to prevent prosecutions for past war crimes, including torture and killings, by the UK military.
Earlier this month, the Internal Market Bill was pushed through the House of Commons, with the government openly conceding that its purpose and effect was to breach international law in ways specific to Northern Ireland.
Read our full submission here.