British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s clashes with the courts are well known so it’ no surprise that reports suggest he wants to let ministers overrule judicial decisions. This latest news follows reports by The Times who have been following the planning reforms currently going through parliament, closely.
If the reports are correct, then Dominic Raab, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister, has been tasked by Johnson with toughening plans to reform judge’s powers to rule on the legality of minister’s decisions. Whitehall sources have been reported as saying they would move to reinforce parliament’s sovereignty over the unelected judiciary.
In the past the newspaper has reported Johnson’s desire to weaken the power of the courts to overrule ministerial decisions.
Raab and attorney general, Suella Bravermen have already tabled one option, an annual “interpretation bill” in which ministers will strike out findings from judicial reviews that the government does not agree with. No 10 its apparently on board with the plan.
Understandably the idea has been criticised by legal establishment, with one senior QC quoted as saying the prime minister is seeking a “more compliant judiciary.” That view is supported by Labour MP Stella Creasey who said: “The one rule for everyone else, no rules for them motif of this government is quite something.”
According to sources spoken to by the Times, Johnson is reportedly unhappy with the Judicial Review and Courts Bill currently going through parliament. The bill, which focuses on subtle remedies such as suspended judgments to give ministers time to tackle problems, he believes “doesn’t go far enough”.
If the reports that Johnson wants to let ministers overrule judicial decisions is true, this could be setting up a dangerous situation with the courts losing the power to overrule illegal parliamentary decisions.
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