I am writing this article to help people understand how a Judicial Review could be your best weapon when the police unlawfully fail to uphold a police complaint, or fail you as a victim of crime by their unlawful and detrimental decisions.
First of all, it is important to understand that the Judicial Review process can be costly. You must consider wisely whether it is the correct course of action for you and, if you have a valid use of it.
Also it is worthy of note that, if your Judicial Review is unsuccessful, the other party may seek a cost order against you for their ‘reasonable‘ costs.
What is a Judicial Review (JR)?
A JR is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. The full details are here.
It also considers if the decision was reasonable in that would all reasonable people make the same decision (Wednesbury Unreasonable)
The Judicial Review process is not intended to review the decision outcome itself, but only how the decision was made.
It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were ‘right’, as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision.
If the Court upholds your review request, then the flawed decision is quashed and the public body must make the decision again, lawfully.
I will use an example of a JR that I brought against the IOPC (including Lancashire police) to demonstrate the correct usage.
I was unlawfully arrested and maliciously charged with an offence by Lancashire police.
The police officer(s) conduct, (pre and post arrest) was the subject of my complaint. The complaint included
- lies amounting to Perjury
- unlawful arrest
- Failure to investigate
- Withholding evidence
- Malicious prosecution
It is important to note that I was charged and convicted in a Magistrates court for this matter. The conviction was later overturned on appeal based on the conduct of the officers. This case is documented in great detail elsewhere on this website.
My complaint was made to Lancashire police Professional Standards Department (PSD) who swiftly made the decision ‘not to record or investigate it‘. (do not confuse the word professional in their ‘self-proclaimed title’, they are is anything but professional)
Their flawed rationale of Lancashire PSD was that, my complaint was about ‘incidents’ that were dealt with in the criminal Courts and that the complaint system was not the correct process.
This is false (and Lancashire police know it) as the lying officer kicked me and evidence of this assault was unlawfully withheld from the court. Furthermore, the police failed to arrest me correctly (not related to the trial) and refused to investigate the (now proven), allegation the arresting officer kicked me and committed perjury to secure a conviction.
I appealed to the IOPC.
To my amazement, after submitting my substantial legally drawn appeal to the IOPC, the IOPC made the unlawful decision that the police decision was correct. The IOPC then swiftly dismissed my appeal, (not upholding it), telling me their decision was ‘final‘.
This was now a decision that I could challenge by JR as it was unquestionable that the decision was not lawful and absolutely not reasonable.
I submitted my Letter Before Action to the IOPC legal department. The LBA is a process where you must notify the respondent of your intentions, and provide the grounds for the JR application and also give they time to respond (normally 14 days).
In your LBA, you should clearly identify the decision that was wrong and explain how it was wrong in law, quote relevant legislation, police guidance and any other supporting information to support your claim and always notify them of costs.
It is now up to the respondent to decided ‘if they can win’, because the High Court do not suffer fools
In my case, the IOPC realised that I had a strong case (clear cut) and that their (intentional) attempt to hamper my police complaint was futile. If they had continued to a full JR (which I was fully intending on doing), they would fail.
The IOPC responded, stating their decision was unlawful (as was the decision by Lancashire police).
As their decision was final, the case had to progress via the costly JR process anyway, and the IOPC agreed to pay my reasonable legal costs. As a litigant in person, you can claim (a whopping) £19 per hour for all of your time for dealing with this. This can include Letter Before Action preparation, research of legal points, advice taken from legal advisors etc. Make sure you claim every second of your valuable time.
I then instructed DPP Law, who agreed to take the case on, on a conditional fee arrangement on the basis that the IOPC agreed to pay reasonable costs.
Solicitors generally do not undertake Judicial Reviews on conditional fee arrangements (No Win No Fee), I believe this is mainly due to the complexity of Judicial Reviews and the vast costs associated. If you, as the Litigant in Person does substantial legwork and can present your case in detail, highlighting the unlawfulness and unreasonableness of the decision, then a solicitor is more inclined to take the case.
If you have any questions about the JR process or my JR process, please post a question. I have two further JR’s in progress and will publish their outcome in the near future.