Being a college or university student can be a very exciting but stressful time, not least when you are waiting with anticipation to get your degree result. Most people accept what they have been given and move on to the next chapter of their lives. However, Queen's University Belfast recent graduate Andrew Croskery is an exception to the general rule. In a first of its kind action, Mr Croskery has applied for a judicial review of the 2:2 degree classification he received.
The action for judicial review was raised because Mr Croskery was unable to take the matter up with the University, as he had already graduated this summer. It was argued that he could have gained a 2:1 degree, instead of a 2:2 degree, if he had had better supervision and added that the university's stance was not compliant with his human rights. It was argued that his employment prospects have been jeopardised in a competitive job market.
The University argued that the judicial review application should be dismissed, as the court was not the place to solve the matter. Mr Justice Treacy adjourned the case and will determine later this month whether the legal challenge can proceed.
The 1992 case of West v Secretary of State for Scotland defined judicial review as: 'The procedure whereby the exercise of a delegated discretionary decision making power is examined by a court so as to ensure that the power has been exercised for its lawful purpose.'
Actions for judicial review in Scotland are dealt with by the Court of Session and allow parties to challenge the exercise of power by UK and Scottish Ministers, UK and Scottish government departments and agencies, non-departmental bodies, local authorities and other official decision makers. Judicial review therefore covers a wide range of subjects, such as immigration, housing, planning and licensing law, for example.
While Mr Croskery's action may be the first of its kind, recent years have shown a real growth in actions for judicial review, which trend is ongoing. There are many factors which have led to this increase, including the continuing impact of European Community Law and the Human Rights Act 1998. With colleges and universities producing thousands of graduates on a yearly basis, Mr Croskery's action, if successful, could potentially open up a new avenue leading the way for a vast amount of similar actions being raised. Watch this space!