Judicial Review - what does it mean?

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The High Court has the power to supervise the lower courts, tribunals and other administrative bodies to ensure their decisions are made properly and in accordance with the law. This is known as Judicial Review.

Essentially this is a  process whereby an application can be made to the High Court to have a particular decision or action reviewed by the Courts by an individual or group.

No application for Judicial Review can be made without first seeking permission from the Court to do so.

Under Section 50 , 50A and 50B of the Planning and Development Acts (as amended) decisions made by An Bord Pleanala can be questioned by making an application under the Judicial Review process.

A very recent and local example of this is the permission granted by Indaver to construct and operate an Incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Cork Harbour.

Challenges under Section 50 allow for the questioning by the Courts of the validity of the decision by an Board Pleanala only. The Courts do not adjudicate on the merits of the development.

When Judicial Review proceedings are brought under the Planning Acts the application must be made within 8 weeks from the date the Board makes its decision. This time frame may be reduced further as the Government makes moves to combat the delays arising from Court challenges to Strategic Infrastructure Developments.

In conventional Judicial Review proceedings applications must be made within three months from the date the grounds for application first arose or six months where relief is sought Certiorari (where the Court is asked to use its discretion to decide to review the decisions of a lower court) unless the Court considers good reason to allow an extension of time.