Students Staff

30 April 2014

Report criticises Government plans for judicial review

A report published today, which draws on the expertise of Essex lawyer Professor Maurice Sunkin, has criticised Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling for his proposed changes to judicial review.

Professor Maurice Sunkin

Professor Maurice Sunkin

The report, by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, casts doubt over Government claims that “the use of judicial review has expanded massively in recent years and [that] it is open to abuse.”

Citing evidence given by Professor Sunkin of the School of Law, the report argues that when excluding immigration cases, which are no longer heard in the high court, the number of claims pursued through judicial review has remained steady.

Noting that much evidence contradicts Government claims, the report states that: “Professor Maurice Sunkin’s evidence in particular was that ‘the statistics do not justify the claim that judicial review is being abused or that it is increasing…In fact, the official statistics…reveal that, in non-immigration civil judicial reviews over the last 15 years or so, case numbers have remained fairly constant at just over 2,000 a year.’”

The report finds that the Government has not “demonstrated by clear evidence” any significant growth in judicial review.

The timing of the report is significant with the Government seeking to introduce several of its most controversial reforms in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which is currently before Parliament.


More information

Professor Maurice Sunkin is Professor of Public Law and Socio Legal Studies at the University of Essex. With the Public Law Project, he is currently completing a major Nuffield Foundation-funded research project on the use and effect of judicial review. He also serves as legal adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee.

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or email:

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