The BUAV has responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation paper about judicial review. The Government wants to make it harder to bring a judicial review, which is where the courts step in to stop the Government and other public bodies from breaking the law. The Government has already this year made it more difficult to bring a case and its latest proposals would make it even more difficult.
A key proposal relates to ‘standing’, which determines who can bring a judicial review. For decades, charities and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have standing if they have the relevant expertise. This is particularly important where no individual is likely to bring a case but there is a widespread problem with what the Government is doing.
The consultation paper suggests that, in future, only those with a direct interest would be able to bring a judicial review. This would mean that it was impossible for animal protection NGOs such as the BUAV to do so: they never have a direct interest in a case but are rather the voice for animals. The result would then be that the Home Office, which regulates animal experiments, would have complete impunity to do as it wanted. The position would be the same for other animal protection NGOs.
The proposal – and related proposals on legal costs – have inspired a furious reaction from lawyers and from human rights and environmental organisations.
Michelle Thew, BUAV Chief Executive, commented:
‘This is a very poorly argued consultation document. Does the Government really wish to stop organisations like the BUAV from holding them to account? It would be a very dark day for animals –and for people – if these proposals were implemented. We urge ministers to think again.’