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Judicial review claim brought in relation to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, a statutory body whose functions include the investigation of possible miscarriages of justice and the referral of appropriate cases to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

The claimant alleged that the Commission lacked sufficient independence from its sponsor department, the Ministry of Justice, because (i) its members did not enjoy adequate security of tenure, being appointed on a part time fee-paid basis for terms of 3 years and re-appointment being in the discretion of ministers; and (ii) the Commission’s board had been reduced in size and reorganised, in line with a recommendation of the Ministry of Justice, so as not to include every member of the Commission.

The Divisional Court (Fulford LJ & Whipple J) dismissed the claim. In respect of security of tenure, the court held that 3-year fee-paid appointments, with the discretion to re-appoint governed by and exercised in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments, adequately secured the independence of the Commission’s members. In respect of the reorganisation of the board, it accepted that this was done for reasons of good corporate governance and did not impair the independence of the Commission.

Jason Pobjoy and Warren Fitt acted for the Defendant.

The judgment can be found here.

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