'The Future of Public Law in England and Wales' - Lecture by Ms. Sarah Nason
Bangor Law School is delighted to announce that Ms. Sarah Nason, a member of the School’s UK Public Law Group, will be giving a talk on her research into Judicial Review in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, 12 October 2011.
Ms. Sarah Nason is Lecturer in Law at Bangor University. She graduated from Cambridge University with 1st Class Honours in Law and later began training as a solicitor with the London law firm Slaughter and May. Ms. Nason decided to return to academia to pursue her interest in public law and access to justice issues. Alongside her funded research into the future of judicial review in England and Wales, Ms. Nason is a doctoral candidate of University College London and is currently writing up her Thesis on the philosophy of public law and new approaches to legal rationality.
An overview of the theme of the lecture, titled ‘The Future of Public Law in England and Wales’, can be found below. The lecture will take place in room A1.01, Alun Building, at 2.00pm on Wednesday 12 October 2011.
‘The Future of Public Law in England and Wales’
Though judicial vindication of the rule of law has a long and distinguished lineage, the common law of England and Wales historically saw no distinction between public and private law. That is until 1976 when the Law Commission recommended a new judicial review procedure for accessing remedies against public bodies. The procedure was a child of policy and pragmatism, constitutionality and legalism barely featured in the deliberations that gave birth to it. The most pressing issue forcing the formation of a unique public law jurisdiction was the expeditious determination of an influx of litigation from immigrants wishing to challenge removal orders.
In 1980 a single House of Lord’s judgment confirmed the “exclusivity” of the judicial review procedure, signalling that legal redress against public bodies would henceforth only be accessible on application to a small cadre of elite judges centralised at the High Court in London. In 2000 the jurisdiction of these judges was re-named the Administrative Court.
By the mid-90s academics from the University of Essex had uncovered a severe geographical imbalance in the incidence of judicial review litigation. Vast swathes of England produced a miniscule proportion of challenges; applications from Wales failed to reach double figures. This is clearly an issue of equal access to justice that touches upon the legitimacy of our public law: in short, if whole populations in some regions were inhibited from using the system because of their location how could that system be considered fit for the purpose of furthering the rule of law in our modern democracy? There are of course parallels here with the current Coalition’s drive towards greater devolution and localisation of governmental power.
Regionalisation of the Administrative Court had been on the policy agenda for some time, but was only practically progressed under a cloud of déjà vu when the expanding asylum and immigration caseload crippled the Administrative Court in London. Four new Administrative Court Centres opened in 2009 in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, and Manchester. The long-term implications and affects of regionalisation on access to justice and the availability of legal services, on the professions, and on the overall quality of our public law could be profound.
Ms. Sarah Nason, at Bangor Law School, has now taken over the mantle of assessing the impact of these reforms, with assistance from the University of Essex and the Public Law Project. The current research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and British Academy, and supported by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, has begun to assess the affect regionalisation is having on access to justice, the market for legal services, and the quality of public law. Ms. Nason’s lecture will report upon the initial findings of the research and examine a number of related issues impacting on the future of public law in England and Wales. The talk is organised by the School's UK Public Law Group.
Publication date: 6 October 2011