A group of five law firms have urged Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland to include claimant representatives on the panel looking at reforming judicial review.
Leigh Day, Bindmans, Irwin Mitchell, Bhatt Murphy and Deighton Pierce Glynn also said that, without an open call for evidence early in the process, the review could not be “genuine and fair”.
In July, the government appointed former justice minister Lord Faulks QC to lead an independent panel of experts – including two other practising barristers – examining if there is a need to reform the judicial review process.
The group voiced concern that the panel members “are not fully representative of those concerned about the future of judicial review”.
It called on the government to consider expanding the panel to include practising lawyers with expertise in claimant law public law litigation and legal aid funded judicial review work so that the call for evidence will be better scrutinised.
In a letter to the government last week, the five firms said: “For such a review to be credible, its terms need to be widened significantly, and the membership of the panel needs to more fully reflect the legal body that carries out judicial review work.
“If it is not, then any premise underlying this review, that judicial review is routinely abused by claimants, may go uncorrected.”
The group said the letter – which highlighted the risk of its missing “important evidence and empirical data” – led to the review issuing an invitation to interested parties to respond.
But the firms said more needed to be done: “Given the incredibly wide range of factors that the panel will have to consider, and the potentially major constitutional change that such reforms could bring about if adopted, those options must be subject to a full and proper consultation at a formative stage.”
Earlier this month, the Labour Party came out strongly against reform of judicial review.