IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Does judicial review influence the quality of Local Authority Services?

Listed author(s):
  • Calvo, Kerman
  • Platt, Lucinda
  • Sunkin, Maurice
Registered author(s):

    This paper raises some of the key issues that have emerged from our study of the impact of judicial review litigation on the quality of local government services in England and Wales. Judicial Review is the High Court procedure by which those with a ‘sufficient interest’ can challenge decisions of public authorities on the grounds that authorities have failed to meet their legal obligations, including human rights obligations; or have acted unfairly or exceeded or abused their legal powers (or threatened to do these things). The paper discusses whether or not a greater engagement with public law litigation, as experienced in the UK in recent times, may be leading to improvements or declines - in access to services and in service delivery for individuals and classes of services user, to improvements in the clarity and accountability of processes within local authorities, and to greater levels of legal awareness, including the furtherance of the practical application of the rule of law. We focus on two areas of local authority activity: housing and homelessness and children’s services; and we distinguish in the paper between the impact of challenges, and the impact of judicial decisions. The paper draws on a series of qualitative interviews with ‘key informants’ in local authorities; and presents analyses of judicial review decisions of national significance in the area of children’s services. Our conclusions at this stage are tentative and indicate areas that we intend to pursue further. Our most general observation is that judicial review is a significant aspect of an environment that over the past two decades has subjected local authorities to an increasing range of external regulatory and controlling mechanisms. Against this background, we observe that judicial review is distinctive in various ways. We identify several potentially distinctive features of judicial review from a quality perspective, including its focus on individual problems, its ability to subject decisions to close scrutiny and its ability to provide authoritative statements as to local authorities’ duties. We also consider the circumstances under which decisions are likely to have most (or least) impact on the working and quality of local authority services.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2007-34.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 17 Dec 2007
    Publication status: published
    Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2007-34
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK

    Phone: 44-1206-872957
    Fax: 44-1206-873151
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
    Web: Email:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2007-34. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jonathan Nears)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.