Lady Wolffe has sounded a warning to parties about the court’s expectations of parties in judicial reviews in a recent Note. The new judicial review rules came into force on 22 September 2015. You can read more about the new rules in our earlier Law-Now.

Background

The Note deals with some of the first cases under the new rules to reach the procedural hearing stage in the Court of Session. When the cases called before Lady Wolffe at the procedural hearing, the parties had failed to comply with various aspects of the rules. 

In light of this, Lady Wolffe set out guidance on what is expected in terms of preparation for the procedural hearing under the new rules. She explained that the intention is for the new process “to filter out cases with no real prospect of success” at the permission stage and where permission is granted, to “identify and define the arguments” involved. Thereafter “the emphasis is on a focused, disciplined analysis of the issues at an early stage… which are to be resolved by a swift and efficient judicial procedure.” 

Documents should be lodged in advance of the procedural hearing, to give judges an opportunity to review the material. This will allow informed decisions to be made as to the nature of the substantive hearing. Lady Wolffe also notes that counsel principally instructed should appear at the procedural hearing. Where this is not possible, counsel appearing should be “appropriately briefed”.

What does this mean for Petitions for Judicial Review?

Lady Wolffe explains that “the court’s expectation is that cases will be well prepared and efficiently progressed commensurate with the spirit of, and what is intended to be the practice under, the new chapter 58 rules.” 

To comply with the new rules and to meet the expectations of the court, parties must be prepared at an early stage in proceedings; both in terms of their arguments, and their supporting documentation. 

Lady Wolffe’s Note can be read in full here.