Judicial Review

Judicial review is a mechanism by which the court can consider the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body such as HMRC. A judicial review claim may be bought against legislation (such as HMRC’s Taxpayers Charter) or public bodies.

Judicial review is generally only available where there is no adequate alternative remedy. Judicial Review is a highly specialist area, with its own set of CPR practice directions and different rules when it comes to the litigation. For example, unlike at the tax tribunal, you need the court’s permission to even allow a judicial review claim to be heard.

Our specialist tax litigation team (unlike other law firms specialising in HMRC tax disputes) have experience in judicial review proceedings. For an example of one of our high profile cases currently at the Administrative Court, click here.

Do I have a claim for judicial review of a decision from HMRC?

HMRC as a governmental public duty are under a duty to act fairly and lawfully at all times. However, many taxpayers are finding that HMRC are falling short of this mark.

A claim for judicial review may be brought by an individual if any of the following criteria are met.


This is where a public body such as HMRC acts ultra vires (beyond the powers conferred on them) then they would have acted illegally.


This is also known as Wednesbury unreasonableness. One formulation of this test is that to be considered unreasonable or irrational it must be:

“So outrageous in it s defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it”.

Council of Civil Service Unions -v- Minister for the Civil Service [1985] AC 374

Procedural impropriety

In order to make out a case under this ground, there are two fundamental pillars to procedural impropriety described as the rule against bias and the right to be heard. Additionally, there is a right to be given the reasoning for a decision made by a public body. The courts must determine that there is a real possibility of bias.

The question is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased.

Magill -v- Porter [2001] UKHL 67 103

The breach of legitimate expectations

This is a common ground in judicial review grounds. It is a discrete ground of judicial review where a party is given an expectation that a public body will act in a certain way. This expectation can arise from previous conduct of that body or because of express statements made by them or by what is in legislation, for example the HMRC Taxpayers Charter.

For a successful legitimate expectation claim in judicial review, there must have therefore been a clear promise or evidence of regular practice made by the public body.

Breach of Human Rights

This is governed by the Human Rights Act 1998 and may give rise to a judicial review claim:

it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.

Section 6(1) Human Rights Act 1998

If you believe that a decision made by HMRC fulfilled any of the above criteria, you should contact our expert team now.

Is there a time limit to bring my claim?

A judicial review claim must be made promptly and in any event no later than 3 months after the grounds to make the claim arose (CPR 54.5(1)). In any event, it must be made as soon as the grounds for bringing a claim have arisen. This date cannot be extended by agreement between parties.

Therefore, if you believe that you may have a claim against HMRC for judicial review, then you should seek legal advice promptly.

What are the available remedies for a Judicial Review claim?

The following are remedies which the Administrative Court can order following the judicial review hearing:

  • declaration– this is a statement made by a High Court judge which clarifies the law through stating the law as an order;
  • prohibitory order – an order preventing a public body from acting beyond its powers in the future;
  • quashing order – sets aside the decision of a public body on the basis that it is invalid ;
  • an injunction – this is sought as a form of interim relief during proceedings which essentially compel a party to act or prohibit them from acting;
  • mandatory order – this is an order requiring the defendant to carry out a duty that it is obliged to do by law; or
  • damages– whilst there is no right in judicial review to claim damages for losses caused by an unlawful administrative action, it is possible to claim damages if there is another cause of action. If this established cause of action is separate to the grounds under which judicial review is sought, then damages may be a remedy the court will consider. Examples may include: breach of statutory duty, misfeasance in public office or private action in tort.

How our expert London Judicial Review Lawyers can help you

As a leading specialist tax law firm with a track record of success, you can be assured your tax matter is in safe hands. Our success rate is a result of the dedication of our tax team who will diligently review your matter so it has the best possible chance of success from the outset when it matters the most.

Our experienced lawyers regularly carry out work in many tax disputes areas,  from advising clients on whether HMRC have followed the correct procedures to successfully challenging HMRC’s policies. We have specialist knowledge in HMRC internal processes as well as ensuring that we are able to successfully challenge HMRC decisions in the Tax Tribunals and via judicial review at the Administrative Court.

Not based in London? We provide nationwide representation

That does not matter, we will represent you no matter where you are based in England or Wales.

If you contact us through our contact form, by email or by phone, one of our tax team members will contact you by phone to discuss your matter and assess whether we can help you.

If we can, we will arrange a conference with a senior member(s) of our tax team. This meeting will take place either in person or using our telephone conference facilities or via Skype if you prefer. Therefore, no matter where you are based in England or Wales we can represent you.

Discounted fixed fee initial consultation

If you need advice related to judicial review of a HMRC decision, our highly experienced solicitors and barristers are able to assist. Our specialist tax team regularly provide market leading advice to directors of companies and limited liability partnerships. We invite you to contact us so we can assess your claim. We can subsequently provide urgent help, advice or representation to clients from our expert legal team of leading Tax Disputes solicitors and barristers. Just call or email us now for a heavily discounted initial consultation; our legal team are waiting to help.