Sudbury peer defeats government bill
Lord Phillips of Sudbury was one of two Suffolk peers who helped defeat a government proposal to reduce the power of judicial reviews.
Andrew Phillips, along with Suffolk peer Lord Deben, challenged the proposal made by the Government when it passed through the House of Lords last week.
The proposal – under the Criminal Justice and Courts bill – was rejected by the House of Lords after strong representations against the wording of a clause which, if passed, would limit the power of judicial reviews.
A judicial review in front of an independent judge can be called for when citizens seek to establish whether public authorities, including MPs, have acted unlawfully.
The Government’s proposed clause would force a judge to dismiss an application for a judicial review at the outset if it is unlikely that the outcome for the applicant would have changed if the unlawful conduct had not occurred.
Currently, judges have discretion to decide whether a judicial review is necessary.
Speaking at the House of Lords, Lord Phillips said there had been a breakdown in trust between the public and those elected to represent them.
“I believe that we live in a time of democratic crisis,” he said.
“The public are voting for Ukip and, to some extent, they voted in droves for Scottish independence because there is a real breakdown of confidence in the main parties.”
Lord Phillips stressed the importance of judicial reviews and in voting to protect it.
He added: “Surely it is a simple point that the one thing that controls and contains any Government, however strong or however wrong, is the instrument of judicial review.
“I do not think that it is justifiable to reduce the extent and power of judicial review to any extent – that is the rule of law.”
Lord Edward Faulks claimed that judicial reviews were misused to delay lawful acts which are “simply disliked”.
The government’s proposal was defeated by a total of 69 votes.