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Reasons why he UK government intends to make judicial reviews less available have been highlighted by it suffering another crushing defeat in the high court, in London.
The court ruled it is unlawful for the government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to force Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants to be forced to undergo mandatory reconsideration before they can lodge an appeal.
The court action was brought by ESA claimant and law graduate Michael Connor with support of Benefits and Work members.
Connor had been forced to wait 18 weeks by the DWP whilst it carried out a mandatory reconsideration of his ESA decision. During this time, he had no right to claim ESA at a rate paid to claimants once they have lodged their appeal.
Breach of right
The court found that forcing a claimant to wait until an appeal is lodged to be able to receive ESA again was in breach of their right to a fair trial.
Connor praised Benefits and Work after he received the court’s decision. He said: “The judicial review was only made possible by the (financial) support of Benefits and Work members. Without this support ESA claimants would still have to endure the draconian mandatory reconsideration process without any appeal pending benefit. Benefits and Work is the leader in grassroots support for benefit claimants and I am honoured to have their support.”
It’s good to know that judicial reviews can work as a check on unlawful executive action but that is clearly why the government is set on making then them more difficult to use.
At the time of writing, the DLA had made no comment, nor announced whether it intends to appeal.
Stopping benefits – new guidance
Taking of the DLA, seemingly without any prior consultation or discussion, it suddenly announced last week that it has changed the safeguarding procedure for vulnerable claimants.
In future, a case conference will take place to try to avoid stopping benefits if a claimant fails to attend a work capability assessment (WCA).
A Benefits and Work spokesman said: “The change appears to have happened because the DWP is desperate to avoid being savaged in court by the family of Errol Graham.
“Errol starved to death in June 2018 after his benefits were stopped because he failed to attend h a WCA.
Known mental health issues
“This was done without checking on his mental or physical health wellbeing, even though he was known to have serious mental health issues.”
Errol Graham’s family has a two-day High Court hearing listed at which it will challenge the DWP’s safeguarding procedures.
Lawyers for the family say they want to see the actual guidance issued to DWP decision makers before they decide their next move.
Yet more evidence why the government wishes to curtail our right to launch judicial reviews.
The last review of judicial reviews was during the time of the coalition government when then justice secretary Chris Grayling said:“I believe in protecting judicial review as a check on unlawful executive action, but I am equally clear that it should not be abused, to act as a brake on growth.
“In my view, judicial review has extended far beyond its original concept, and too often cases are pursued as a campaigning tool, or simply to delay legitimate proposals. That is bad for the economy and the taxpayer, and also bad for public confidence in the justice system.”
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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.
Centre not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control) Colour not color Diarrhoea not diarrhea Haematology not hematology Haematopoietic not hematopoietic
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.