Explain two criticisms of judicial review as a check on the executive.

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Explain two criticisms of judicial review as a check on the executive. [10]

Everyone is bound by the Law, including Ministers, Public Officials and others. Public Officials should therefore use their power reasonably and not act ultra vires. This is upheld by Judicial Review, the power of the Judiciary to review and possibly overturn laws, decrees and actions of other branches of government and public bodies. However, this process could be criticised.

Firstly, the people must pay for it out of their own pocket with no guarantee of victory. Legal Disputes may be prohibitively costly. Only the wealthy can afford top lawyers and access to legal aid is not always easy and may exclude those from mid Income groups. Individuals represented by legal aid lawyers have some protection against costs orders if they lose their case. A costs order is when the court orders that you must pay the legal fees of the other party when you lose a case. The amount is decided by the court. However, the government has recently proposed changes to limit legal aid for judicial review. In April 2014 the government produced amendments to lower the household income threshold from which you are not able to access legal aid. Furthermore, they made amendments to the civil merits test to prevent the funding of any cases with less than a 50% chance of success. They also made the claimant's friends, colleagues, family and associates – anyone who might be able to help them financially, basically - liable to the legal costs. The emotional impact of this is severe. Someone may be willing to risk their own wellbeing and livelihood for something they believe in, but it feels entirely different if you’re risking the livelihood of those around you.

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Secondly, in the majority of cases reviews find in favour of the executive due, some would argue, to a pro-executive stance on the part of judges. In 2011, it was 174 victories - that's 16 out of every 1,000 cases. The demographic composition of the senior judges could call into question the effectiveness of judicial review. The current Justices include Lord Neuberger (President of the Court), Lord Phillips, Baroness Hale and Lord Kerr (who attended Queen’s University, Belfast).  11 out of 12 are male. Baroness Hale is the only woman. In 2012 their average age was 66 and 11 of ...

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