Why is public law important

Public law remedies are the means by which public authorities can be held to account. In the absence of effective and accessible mechanisms of accountability, the exercise of power by central and local government, and the many other public bodies, may go unchecked.

 The decisions of public authorities have a particularly significant impact on the lives of those facing poverty, discrimination or disadvantage. Such decisions may determine whether health care is to be provided, whether a social security benefit is to be awarded, or whether a place in a care home is to be allocated to an elderly person awaiting discharge in hospital. Yet, despite being the very people who have the most to lose from an unlawful or unfair decision, those facing disadvantage are the ones also facing the greatest obstacles to accessing the public law remedy. The Public Law Project aims to tackle those obstacles and improve access to justice.

 

Judicial review is indispensable in a democracy … It ensures that public bodies act according to law. They cannot be above the law. Ministers, who are politicians, often will be frustrated if their decisions are challenged or quashed, but that is an intrinsic aspect of government subject to the rule of law, as is the need for Ministers to be aware of their duty to comply with the law.

Lord Irvine of Lairg (former Lord Chancellor) Contact Us