On Thursday 14th April, the final of the Human Rights Lawyers Association 4th Annual Judicial Review Competition took place in Middle Temple Hall.
Two teams met to present their arguments before a distinguished panel of judges consisting of Lord Justice Longmore and Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hons). The teams were arguing the lawfulness of fictitious regulations that would restrict state benefits to people on the basis of their citizenship or residency. The Claimant in the case, an Australian citizen, unable to work, with a 7 year old daughter, was represented by Hannah Gardiner and Lucy Meredith. The Defendant, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, was represented by Emma Foubister and John Fitzsimons.
Counsel for the Claimant, Hannah Gardiner and Lucy Meredith, argued that the regulations were in breach of Article 8 ECHR as they prevented family life from continuing in the particular circumstances of the case. They submitted that the regulations w ultra vires of the enabling Act of Parliament as the Secretary of State had failed to take the needs of the individuals who would lose social security entitlements into account. This was a relevant consideration for the Secretary of State when deciding to introduce the regulations.
Counsel for the Defendant, Emma Foubister and John Fitzsimons, argued that any interference with Article 8 ECHR could be justified to achieve the aim of reducing welfare expenditure, as long as the action was not manifestly without reasonable foundation. They argued that primary purpose of the enabling Act of Parliament was to reduce welfare expenditure and that considerations of residency and citizenship merely flowed from this primary consideration.
The judges vigorously challenged the arguments put forward by Counsel, who responded with impressive fluency and composure. All contestants demonstrated an excellent knowledge of the law, but the Court ultimately found in favour of the Defendant, as its Counsel displayed particular clarity of presentation. Michael Polak, Chair of the Young Lawyers’ Committee of the Human Rights Lawyers Association, stated that ‘it was impressive how both teams managed to present complex arguments in a succinct and engaging way’.
After the competition, the teams enjoyed dinner together in Middle Temple Hall, along with the judges, members of the Young Lawyers Committee of the HRLA, Middle Temple benchers and their guests. What better way to relax and soak up the atmosphere of Middle Temple after such a performance?
The HRLA Young Lawyers Committee would like to thank the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, Lord Justice Longmore, Professor Sara Chandler QC, Church Court Chambers, Doughty Street Chambers, Hart Publishing, and all those who helped organise the competition.
Hear from the winners, Emma Foubister and John Fitzsimons, in their recent blog post.