HRLA Judicial Review Competition 2013

Human Rights Lawyers’ Association holds first
Judicial Review Competition at Middle Temple

The decision of the Secretary of State for Justice to limit the time a person can apply for judicial review to 30 days is unlawful. Such was the decision of the Divisional Court, composed of Mr Justice Guy Newey and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, sitting at Middle Temple Hall on Thursday 7th March.

The United Kingdom’s first student judicial review competition was won by Jelia Sane and Matthew Fraser, a team of two BPTC students from City Law School. The competition, run by the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), is “designed to increase awareness and understanding of the process of judicial review and its crucial role in the British constitution”, said Michael Polak of the HRLA’s Student Committee which organised the competition.

The winning argument was that the new time limit of 30 days was irrational, in that it did not allow time for the claimants to reasonably follow the pre-action protocol, or seriously consider alternative dispute resolution and was therefore self-defeating given its stated intention of reducing costs and delay. Such as situation could lead to “Judicial review becoming the first place to look for a remedy rather than [as it should be] the last” according to the City team. It was this point and its implications for access to justice and the requirements of Article 6 of the ECHR that lead to the judgement of the court as detailed by Master Cooke.

In awarding the prize of JUSTICE membership and annual conference tickets Judge Cooke QC and Mr. Justice Newey took note of the impressive standard of both sides’ submissions. They were particularly impressed that the runners up; Yong Chong and Seraphina Chew both still undergraduates at the LSE, had reached the final after competing against over 40 other teams, many of them BPTC and LPC students.

Both teams had already progressed through a written application stage and at oral permission hearings hosted by Hardwicke Chambers. The final of the competition was followed by a Private Guest Night at Middle Temple Hall, where both teams were invited to dine with be-gowned members and Benchers of the Inn and their guests at a black tie dinner.
(This year the Human Rights Lawyers Association will provide around 10 awards from a maximum annual bursary fund of £10,000. Further information in regards to applying for a bursary or joining the HRLA can be found at www.hrla.org.uk)

Richard Reynolds