Judicial review has become an effective tool for litigators in the Turks and Caicos Islands (“TCI”). Judicial review has assisted individuals and businesses in rectifying the improper exercise of government decision-making powers and has most recently been utilized to overturn decisions of immigration, licensing, and planning authorities, as well as to challenge unconstitutional and improperly made laws.
Judicial review involves the Court reviewing decisions made by a public body. In the judicial review process, the Court will look at the way decisions were made, rather than the conclusions reached, to ensure that those decisions were lawful, fair, and rational. In the event of a successful judicial review, the Court may declare decisions unlawful, return the issue to the original decision-maker for a fresh decision, or quash a decision.
The most common grounds of judicial review are illegality, procedural unfairness, and unreasonableness. Procedural unfairness means that the process leading up to the decision being made was unfair and may include, among other things, the bias of a decision-maker, the improper exercise of decision-making power, or the failure of a decision-maker to allow a party to make their case. Unreasonableness allows for a decision to be overturned if it is so unreasonable no reasonable person, acting reasonably, could have made it. Illegality generally refers to the way a public authority acts and whether it had the legal power to make that decision.
Order 53 of the Civil Rules 2000 (the “Rules”) governs applications for judicial review in TCI. Under Order 53, r. 3 an applicant must first apply to the court for “leave” or permission to make an application for judicial review. Under Order 53, r. 4 applications for leave must be made within three months from the date when grounds for the application first arose (usually the date on which a decision or judgment was rendered), however, the court reserves discretion to extend the period for good reason. When leave is given, proceedings are commenced by the entering of an originating motion which is served on all affected parties.
Judicial review is a powerful tool that can be used to ensure a decision-makers and/or governments act lawfully, fairly, and within the bounds of the law. If you are concerned by a decision of a Government department or statutory body Griffiths & Partners would be pleased to advise you.
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