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How do we deal with public law challenges?
At Bhatt Murphy, we see this area of law as being at the forefront of all our work and one of the main tools to try and make state agencies and administrative tribunals more accountable and accessible. We pursue public law challenges in all areas ranging through inquests, police complaints, immigration detention powers, prisoners’ rights and criminal appeals.
In consequence, we do not have a separate public law department but see this area of work as integral to all aspects of the legal advice and service we provide. Details of our public law challenges can be seen in the cases
section of the site.
What is public law?
Public law is the mechanism by which the courts can review and control the administrative functions of the state to ensure that decisions are taken lawfully and that fair and appropriate procedures are followed. The most common public law remedy is through judicial review, although there is also scope to pursue public law issues through declarations in claims for damages, inquest verdicts, Ombudsman and complaints schemes and public inquiries.
Types of cases
You will find summaries of our important public law cases here
We have successfully undertaken the following types of challenges.
Challenges to legislation
Ensuring that new statutes are interpreted and implemented to ensure they operate in accordance with fundamental human rights. We have successfully challenged new laws relating to:
- The manner in which sentences are fixed for people convicted of murder;
- The test to be applied when released prisoners are recalled to prison.
Entitlement to reasons
Ensuring that members of the public are given full and proper reasons for decision affecting them. We have succeeded in achieving a right to a reasoned decision on behalf of:
- Prisoners in respect of decisions affecting their release;
- Prisoners in respect of their categorisation;
- Bereaved families in respect of decisions not to prosecute police officers concerned in their loved one’s deaths.
We have challenged Coroners:
- In respect of the adequacy of the inquiry they have undertaken; and
- In respect of their discretion to convene inquests in certain cases.
In respect of the investigation of police complaints, we have challenged:
- The adequacy of investigations undertaken;
- The quality of decisions reached;
- Decisions to exclude victims from the process of investigation; and
- With regard to the legality of permitting police officers to retire and thereby escape disciplinary sanction.
In respect of decisions reached by the prosecutorial authorities, we have challenged:
- The legality of decisions reached not to prosecute police officers; and
- The lack of openness and transparency in the process.
In respect of decisions reached by the police we have also taken successful challenges to the administration of cautions and their use of information.
Miscarriages of Justice
In respect of miscarriages of justice, we have challenged decisions reached by the Criminal Cases Review Commission concerning the referral of matters to the Court of Appeal