Judicial Review

Judicial review is undoubtedly the area of public law in which the term “public interest” is used most frequently. This is not just because it sits at the intersection of many areas of law – among them human rights law and EU law – but also because of the broader goals that judicial review is said to pursue. Although there are many ways in which to think about judicial review, it is typically associated with the control of public decision-makers who exercise public law powers and duties within the framework established by, most often, statute. Such decision-makers are in turn under a duty to act lawfully and in “the public interest” and, where they do not do so, judicial review can lie as a remedy. Judicial review in that way promotes “the public interest” by ensuring that public decision-makers observe the parameters of their powers and exercise them for only lawful reasons.

Within this, there are four main ways in which the courts have mobilised the term “public interest” when developing judicial review. The first has concerned the reach of judicial review and the type of decisions that are open to challenge in the courts. The remaining three – on standing, protective costs orders, and interventions – each concern what may broadly be termed as “public interest litigation”.

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