This an avenue for the High Court to exercise its supervisory jurisdiction over the work and activities of public bodies/authorities, inferior tribunals etc. Judicial review cannot be pursued against decisions of private entities or against superior courts.
The intention is not for the High Court to substitute its opinion for that of the public body/authority instead; it is for the Court to judicially review the decision-making process of the particular public body/authority. For example:
- Where a public authority has made a clear and unambiguous promise that is devoid of any relevant qualification a legitimate expectation may arise; and a challenge can be raised in this instance.
- A challenge can be raised against a decision as being substantively unfair if there was an erroneous impression caused by a mistake as to a relevant fact (for which the aggrieved wasn’t responsible); if this fact can be objectively established and it played a material part in the reasoning and decision making of the public authority.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Judicial Review Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000), the Civil Proceedings Rules, case law and any material legislation (which touches and concerns the relevant public body/authority under review) are instructive for judicial review matters.
Some of the fundamental common law grounds for judicial review are: illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety (Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service (1985) AC 374 (HL)).
Process and role of the Court
Judicial review involves a two-stage process – an application for leave (or permission) which can be made without notice; and if leave is granted the judicial review claim can be made thereafter. The role of the Court at the leave stage of the proceedings is not to make any final findings of fact. Instead, it is to determine whether there are serious issues of law or fact to be tried.
On an application for leave the Court should, “make a preliminary or provisional assessment of the evidence and the relevant law and determine whether there are serious issues to be tried.” (Kublalsingh et al v Attorney General CA No. P142 of 2014). The Court has jurisdiction to grant interim relief for e.g. an injunction/conservatory order protecting property rights pending the determination of the claim for judicial review (Attorney General v Sumair Bansraj 38 WIR 286, 292 and 305).
In Trinidad & Tobago, if the claim for judicial review is successful the Court may grant declarations, injunctions, damages (in certain circumstances) and such other orders, directions or writs it considers just and warranted in the circumstances.
For more information see: The Judicial Review Act, 2000 (ttparliament.org) and for related information see: ⚖️Take it to the Court on time! ⚖️ – Tenoreque Legal and Consulting