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14 Jud. Rev. 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/judire14 and id is 1 raw text is: [20091 JR

Regionalisation of the
Administrative Court
Sarah Nason
Prifysgol Bangor University
1. On 21 April 2009, four1 new regional centres of the Administrative Court will open for
business. Located in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, the centres are
the brainchild of a 2007 Judicial Working Group (the Group) tasked to consider the
administration of justice outside of London. The Group's final report, Justice Outside
London (the Report), advocated regionalisation on the grounds of access to justice. It
noted (para. 48):
Nearly all judicial review and other claims in the Administrative Court have to be brought
in London, with the obvious inconvenience and additional expense that this causes for
claimants, defendants, interested parties and their lawyers.
2. With regionalisation dawns a major development in the history of judicial review liti-
gation: a reform more significant than those introduced following the report of the
Bowman Committee and perhaps even to rival the impact of the Human Rights Act
1998. The creation of the County Courts in 1846 was a defining moment in the struggle
for access to justice for all, regardless of geographical location or social class, in relation
to private law. Perhaps 2009 will be likewise remembered for its effect on public law.
The practicalities
3. In the words of the Group, chaired by May LJ, the four centres will be fully opera-
tional (para. 50), able to manage cases from initial listing through to final disposition.
In terms of judicial resources, the Group recommended the deployment of at least three
section 9 Deputy High Court judges trained and nominated to sit in the Administrative
Court to be attached to each of the four regional centres. There will also be two Queen's
Bench Division liaison judges assigned to each centre, operating in tandem with those
existing Chancery Court judges currently designated as supervising judges.
4. In relation to the liaison judges' sitting-time, priority will be given to hearing
Administrative Court work outside of London. There will be two supervising judges,
Mr Justice Beatson, with responsibility for Cardiff and Birmingham and Mr Justice
Langstaff, overseeing Leeds and Manchester. Additionally, regional presiding judges
alongside visiting Circuit High Court judges will offer judicial support to manage
Administrative Court work. There are also designated civil judges in all four centres
with responsibility for case-management of general civil non-specialist work including
Queen's Bench High Court cases.
5. The liaison and supervising judges together will provide support for the specialist
circuit judges and designated civil judges. Such support, and also training, are of the
utmost importance and the Report further recommends appropriate instruction for
the nominated section 9 High Court judges.

1 A fifth centre is opening in Bristol in 2010.

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