Queen’s Speech clears way for reform of judicial review


The government has followed up on its manifesto commitment to examine the system of judicial review.

Today’s Queen’s Speech confirmed it would establish a constitution, democracy and rights commission.

The Conservative manifesto said the commission would examine in depth the issue of judicial review. It said:

“We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”

Judicial review is the main route open to people who oppose decisions by public bodies about the UK onshore oil and gas industry.

Claire Stephenson succeeded in her judicial review about the climate impacts of shale gas developments. This resulted in the removal of a paragraph in the National Planning Policy Framework that had required local authorities to develop policies to facilitate onshore exploration and extraction.

Eddie Thornton, a campaigner in North Yorkshire, has lodged a judicial review claim against the Oil & Gas Authority over who should pay for decommissioning sites. Sarah Finch is bringing a case against Surrey County Council’s approval of drilling and long-term oil production at the Horse Hill site, near Gatwick Airport.

Other attempts to use judicial review failed to overturn planning permission for testing an oil well at Balcombe and fracking at Kirby Misperton.

A background briefing document issued after the Queen’s Speech today did not specifically refer to judicial review.

It said the commission would:

“develop proposals to restore trust in how our democracy operates”


“consider the relationship between government, parliament and the courts to explore whether the checks and balances in our constitution are working for everyone”.

It also said:

“The Government is committed to considering our constitutional position post Brexit, protecting our democracy and safeguarding the integrity of our elections. The Government will continue to develop and drive reforms in a number of important areas.”

Careful consideration was needed on the composition and focus of the commission, the document said. Further announcements would “be made in due course”.

  • In 2014, the government dropped plans to restrict those eligible to bring a judicial review.

Queen’s Speech December 2019 – background briefing notes

Conservative 2019 Manifesto


3 replies »

  1. ‘…. not abused……to create needless delays’, could this possibly refer to the legal challenges highlighted in this article?

    No doubt we’ll be finding out soon!

    Though to be fair the combined legal challenges from PNRAG and Gayzer Frackman that weren’t concluded until January, 2018 didn’t prevent Cuadrilla going about their merry way during 2017 and preparing the Preston New Road fracking site for fracking to begin as if the result of the two cases were already decided!

  2. Seems logical to review whether the Courts are ready to operate in an environment-AGAIN-where they are not subservient to legal decisions elsewhere. Cascading from that, would be a full review how they should be operating on a more day by day basis.

    Will have to be similar reviews within many areas, but without the Courts being reviewed quickly, the many other areas would find it difficult to operate against a legal system that has not been brought up to date.

  3. Most cheering aspect of Opening of Parlaiment was only one Green! This In spite of the ridiculous amount of airtime given to this one MP party.. The Communists did better in the 1930s! Good to know the public are not deceived by these one issue fanatics.
    Happy Christmas to all.

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