Judicial Review and Legal Challenge

Amanda Beresford, Head of Planning, answers some of your questions.

What exactly is a judicial review?

Judicial reviews are Court cases in which a Judge is asked to resolve a dispute about whether a public authority has acted unlawfully. It is a way for the courts to supervise the actions and decisions of public bodies.

So, are planning decisions reviewable by the Courts?

Yes - The most common planning decision which is judicially reviewed is a grant of planning permission by the Local Planning Authority (LPA). However, other planning decisions by a Local Planning Authority are also capable of being judicially reviewed if there are grounds to do so. For example, a decision not to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Can anybody ask the Court to judicially review a planning decision?

Yes if they have a legitimate interest. Individuals may have a genuine interest such as a local resident affected by a grant of planning permission for development in his/her locality. Charities, campaign groups and not for profit organisations can also bring judicial review cases, even if they will not be directly affected, provided that the groups they work with, or the issues they promote, are affected.

Is there a time limit within which an application for judicial review must be made?

Yes – 6 weeks. This is a short time within which to prepare all of the documents necessary to support a claim.

What are the grounds?

A failure to comply with the law, for example acting unfairly, illogically or irrationally.

Is a judicial review the same as a legal challenge?

Not exactly. An application can be made to the Court to ask a Judge to challenge a decision made by a public body. However, in this case it is pursuant to a specific statutory provision. So, for example there is a statutory provision that permits the Court to challenge an Inspector or the Secretary of State’s decision on a planning appeal.

What is the time limit for a legal challenge?

The same as the time limit for bringing a judicial review – 6 weeks.

What happens if the application is successful? What is the outcome?

The Court can make four potential orders. A quashing order whereby the original decision is declared invalid and the public body has to take the decision again. In the case of a planning decision this will usually mean re-determining a planning application or appeal. This is the most usual result in the planning world but other possible orders are a prohibiting order (preventing the public body from doing something unlawful in the future), a mandatory order (whereby the public body is ordered to do something specific) and a declaration, for example, on a way to interpret the law in the future.

Our team

Amanda Beresford


Head of Planning

Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 8070

Lyn Dario


Head of Environmental & Regulatory

Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 3779

Stuart Lumb



Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 3781

Emma Thomas



Direct Line +44 (0)113 288 2842