No charity exemption from providing financial information in judicial review

As a result, charities making applications will have to reveal details of how a review would be funded

High Court: judicial review response from government
High Court: judicial review response from government

The government has rejected calls to exempt charities from the requirement to provide financial information when submitting applications for judicial review.

This might mean that any charity making an application for judicial review will have to reveal details of donors that have made donations to it of more than £3,000.

The rejection comes in a response from the Ministry of Justice to a consultation it ran last year on proposals for the provision and use of financial information in judicial review cases.

The response, published last week, softens the proposed rules from those put forward in the original consultation, but one lawyer warned that they could still have a "chilling effect" on charities’ ability to bring judicial review cases.

The latest proposals say that organisations, including charities, that make judicial review applications will be required to make declarations about how claims would be funded.

Under the proposals, claimants would have to select one of four options, including whether it would be funded from their own resources or partly from other sources.

If they were to choose the latter option, they would be required to provide the name and address of anyone who has made aggregate contributions exceeding or likely to exceed £3,000.

As part of the consultation, carried out last year, charity umbrella bodies called for voluntary sector organisations to be exempted from the rules, which were described by the charity chief executives body Acevo as amounting to "a fundamental breach of justice" if they deterred charities from challenging government decisions.

Claire Whittle, an associate in the public and regulatory department at the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, said this week that she was concerned the reforms could have a chilling effect on charities’ ability to bring applications for judicial review.

She said charities had already been put off from bringing such cases because changes to the procedure concerning organisations that intervene in cases had left them at greater risk of having to pay costs.

"This might deter them from stepping forward as a claimant in judicial reviews that are either supporting their service users, often the most vulnerable in society, or campaigning judicial reviews that would bring about important changes," she said.

The MoJ response says it will consult further on whether financial information in the declaration should be provided to other parties or the court only. The deadline for responses to this consultation is 18 August.

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