Royal Courts of Justice


Fish Legal says act now to stop Government hamstringing judges in environmental cases

14th December 2021

Fish Legal is encouraging members to act now to stop the Government hamstringing judges by taking away their discretion to overturn bad decisions by Defra, the Environment Agency and planning authorities.

Fish Legal has written to Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, complaining about the changes to the law proposed by the Government in their Judicial Review and Courts Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

When Fish Legal wins cases against public bodies like the Environment Agency, judges usually quash unlawful decisions which means the decision is overturned. But the government wants to take the judge’s discretion away.

Fish Legal is asking its members and the public to write to their local MP to highlight the consequences on environmental claims if the government gets its way. 

Justin Neal, Solicitor at Fish Legal said, “If the changes proposed in the Judicial Review and Court Bill go ahead, instead of being able to decide that a decision should be quashed, a judge will have to choose two other kinds of legal “remedy” before he or she considers a full quashing order. These new “remedies” are “suspended quashing orders” and “prospective quashing orders.”  If this new law gets signed off, there will be a “presumption” that the judge would go for one of these “remedies” instead. That means that many bad decisions may never get quashed at all.”

He added, “The problem is that if you can persuade a judge that the public body got things wrong, it may not be possible to end the effect of that bad decision.”

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