Public law, sometimes called administrative law, regulates the legal relationship between public authorities and private organisations and individuals.
Public law disputes are usually dealt with by a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session. Judicial review allows individuals and businesses to challenge the decisions made by Ministers, Government Departments, local authorities and other public bodies. These bodies can include professional organisations, regulatory bodies, planning authorities and some tribunals.
The main grounds of review are that the decision maker has acted beyond his or her powers, that the decision was made using an unfair procedure or that the decision was an unreasonable one. The Human Rights Act 1998 created an additional ground, by making it unlawful for public bodies to act incompatibly with certain provisions of the European Convention on Human rights.
Judicial review is not concerned with the 'merits' of a decision or whether the public body has made the 'right' decision. The only question is whether the public body has acted unlawfully. In particular, it is not the task of the courts to substitute their judgment for that of the decision maker.
The courts can strike down delegated legislation and Acts of the Scottish Parliament if they are incompatible with the ECHR.
Although Acts of the Westminster Parliament cannot be struck down, they can still be reviewed and the court can declare them to be incompatible with the Convention.
Members of Axiom Advocates have extensive experience in all aspects of public law and are able to provide authoritative written opinions as well as legal representation in court.