To bring judicial review proceedings you have to establish you have an arguable case. Courts have, in recent times, interpreted this as imposing a relatively high bar for judicial review proceedings; think of it as being shortlisted for a job. And if they think you cross that bar they give you ‘permission’.
We are pleased that we have now heard – in relation to two more sets of claims – that the High Court thinks our claims are arguable.
Last week we learned the Court has given Good Law Project and EveryDoctor permission to bring our challenge against its decision to award contracts to Pestfix, Ayanda, and Clandeboye. The Court gave us permission on some – but not all – of our grounds of complaint. So we have asked the Court for a short oral hearing in which we will make the case to be given permission on the others. That hearing will take place this Thursday 3rd December.
A few days later we heard we’ve also been granted permission to bring our challenge against the lucrative public affairs contract given to long-time associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings at Public First.
In the Government’s summary grounds of defence, they do not even bother to argue that their decision to award the contract without competition was lawful. And their conduct does not seem to have thrilled the Court:
“The Defendant has provided no substantive response to the Claimant’s challenges, whether by way of pre-action correspondence or his Acknowledgement of Service, other than to state his intention to challenge the Claimant’s standing…The Defendant ought to have been able to indicate the general nature of his grounds of resistance in the Acknowledgment of Service.
“It is arguable that there was, at 3 March 2020, no extreme urgency within Regulation 32(2)(c) in respect of a contract for services of this nature”.
This case will be heard next year.
The Government’s arguments are wearing thin. Now it will have to come clean about what really happened.
It is only with your backing that we can continue to hold Government to account. Thank you for your continued support.
Jolyon Maugham QC
Director of Good Law Project