Systemic Unfairness, Access to Justice, and Futility: A Framework
(2020) 40 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (Forthcoming)
39 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 20, 2020
This paper develops a conceptual framework for access to justice as a ground of judicial review in English law. We identify a hitherto undertheorised strand of cases which enable courts to review policy within proper constitutional bounds: the doctrine of systemic unfairness, which focuses on risks inherent in a system as a whole. In the context of access to justice, the relevant systemic risk is one of futility: a rational litigant’s inability to vindicate a meritorious claim. Proving the required facts in the context of judicial review proceedings is not an easy task. Litigants must look beyond the realisation of harm to the mechanisms which put access to justice at risk. It is only where the combined impact or cost of system-level risk is particularly severe that a policy-level challenge will succeed on access to justice grounds.
Keywords: systemic unfairness, access to justice, judicial review, law and economics, court reform, digitalisation
JEL Classification: K00, D00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation