What is the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review?

The Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review sets out a code of good practice and contains the steps which parties should normally follow before making a claim for judicial review. The Protocol encourages the parties to exchange information at an early stage and to consider using a form of alternative dispute resolution.

When does the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review apply?

The Protocol applies to all judicial reviews. Judicial review is a procedure which allows people with a sufficient interest in an action or decision of a public body to ask a judge to review the lawfulness of an enactment, a decision, an action or a failure to act in relation to the exercise by the public body of a public function.

When will it not be appropriate to follow the Protocol?

Claims which are likely to become time-barred

Claims for judicial review must normally be made within 3 months after the grounds to make the claim first arose. The Court does have the discretion to allow a late claim, however, this is only used in exceptional circumstances. Compliance with the Protocol alone is unlikely to be a sufficient ground for making a late claim. For this reason where the claim may become time-barred the Claimant is not expected to follow the Protocol.

Claims where the Defendant does not have the legal power to change a decision

The Protocol will not be appropriate where the Defendant does not have the legal power to change the decision being challenged. 

Urgent cases

The Protocol will not be appropriate in urgent cases, for example, where a Claimant is due to be removed from the UK or there is an urgent need for an interim order. In emergency cases the Protocol provides that it is good practice to fax to the Defendant the draft Claim Form which the Claimant intends to issue or for a Claimant to notify a Defendant when an interim mandatory order is being sought.

What are the requirements of the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review?

The letter of claim

The Claimant is required, before making a claim, to send to the Defendant a letter of claim. The purpose of the letter of claim is to identify the issues in dispute and establish whether Court proceedings can be avoided. 

Claimants are encouraged to use the suggested standard format letter of claim annexed to the Protocol.  The Protocol specifies what information the letter of claim should contain.  

The Claimant should specify in the letter of claim when he expects the Defendant to respond. Normally this should be within 14 days. Court proceedings should not normally be commenced before that date, unless the circumstances of the case require immediate action to be taken.

The Defendant’s response to the letter of claim

Defendants are encouraged to respond using the standard format letter of response annexed to the Protocol. Normally they should respond within 14 days of the letter of claim. If they fail to do so without good reason the Court may take this into account when it decides the question of costs. 

If a Defendant is not able to respond within the proposed time limit he should send an interim reply and propose a reasonable extension giving reasons why an extension of time is needed.

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For more information on:

  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • What happens if a party does not act in accordance with the Protocol?