Judicial review applications is, at its simplest, an application to the Court to have a particular decision or action reviewed by the Courts. The types of decisions that are can be subject to Judicial review are quite broad. Once the person brining the application has taken legal advice on the merits of bringing the application the next factors to consider are the procedure and the relevant time limits that apply.
In the first instance, no application for judicial review can be made without leave of the Court. The procedural rules for making Judicial Review applications are set out in the Rules of the Superior Courts. Leave to apply is made before the High Court by way of a Notice of Motion grounded on a Statement to Ground the application together with a Verifying Grounding Affidavit.
Leave is generally made on an ex parte basis (that is, without notice to the other side). A High Court Judge will hear the application and will either grant leave to apply together with interim orders as applicable for the judicial review or may, if it considers it appropriate, deny the application. Costs are a matter for the court but the court may require an undertaking as to damages from the appellant.
Judicial review applications for leave must be made within three months from the date when the grounds for the application first arose. In addition, the rules state that an application for leave to apply for judicial review shall be made “promptly”.
For Planning matters a Judicial review of a decision of a planning authority, including An Bord Plenala, must be made within eight weeks of the decision of the planning authority as set out in the Planning and Development Acts 2000 (as amended)
If Leave is granted
Once leave is granted the court will mark a return date and the Appellant must then serve the relevant documents on all persons directly affected within 14 days after the grant of leave unless the Court directs otherwise. This requires monitoring and close communication with the Registrars.
The Court documents should be served personally on the respondents. In circumstances where the purpose of the application is to compel the Court, or an Officer of the Court, to take any particular steps or to quash a pre-existing order, the documents must also be served on the Clerk or Registrar of the Court. The Applicant is also required in their cover letter to notify the Respondents of their requirement to file a statement of opposition within 7 days of the receipt of the documents.
Any Respondent who intends to oppose the application for judicial review is required to file a statement of opposition no later than seven days from the date of service of the proceedings on them. The Court may direct that a party who has not been served be directed to be served and direct how that notice may be served.
At the Hearing
The application is confined to the matters set out in the documents filed. Once the Court is satisfied that the matter is in a position to go to hearing then it will be allocated a date for full hearing in the normal manner before a Judge of the High Court.
Judicial reviews are normally technical applications which focus on a particular error, or errors of law, or procedural error that has been made. Oral evidence can be called but it is more likely to proceed by way of oral and written submissions to the court. The Court will then decide the matter on its merits in accordance with the applicable legislation and case-law.
The court may quash the decision and also may direct that the matter be remitted to the Tribunal or Authority concerned to reconsider it and reach a decision in accordance with the findings of the High Court.