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XIII. Judicial review

Judicial review is a procedure by which the Court of First Instance of the High Court exercises its supervisory jurisdiction over the activities of administrative bodies and inferior courts. The administrative bodies concerned are usually government departments and those public bodies which were set up according to certain ordinances.


The party who applies for a judicial review is called "the applicant" and the party who made the decision under dispute is called "the respondent".


The first important note is that judicial review does not aim at reviewing the merits of an administrative decision. Instead, the court will review the relevant decision-making process . In other words, the court will not examine whether the decision under challenge is right or wrong, but it will check whether there was any error made during the decision-making process.


The second note is that the decision under review must affect the public interest . If the subject decision only undermines your own interest, or it is only a personal dispute between you and the decision-maker, the court will reject your application. An example of a personal dispute would be an argument between you and the decision-maker in relation to a contract term.


The third note is that a judicial review is normally brought to the court on at least one of the following grounds:


  • The decision was made by a person who does not have the relevant statutory authority.
  • The decision was made under an improper or incorrect procedure. (For example, the decision-maker did not observe the procedural rules as written in a particular ordinance.)
  • The decision was unreasonably made. (For example, the decision-maker failed to take into account a relevant matter when making the decision).

(Note: The above does not cover the substantive law of judicial review. You should seek legal advice concerning the appropriateness of commencing such a legal action.)