Over the course of three days in July 2018, members of the professional services team in the law Department visited the Royal Courts of Justice. They had the unique opportunity to tour the RCJ building “behind the scenes” with Sir Ross Cranston, Professor of Law at LSE, who was sitting as a High Court judge. He was hearing two judicial reviews in the Administrative Court, R (on the application of LANGTON) v. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs v Natural England  EWHC 2190 (Admin).
The case involved badger culling. As many Wind and the Willows fans will know, badgers historically have been persecuted in the UK. They are protected under special legislation. But from 2011 government policy has been to permit the licensed culling of badgers as part of its strategy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (“bTB”) from the UK. As Sir Ross Cranston explains in his judgement, it is a “controversial means of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (“bTB”), but justified by the government because badgers “can act as a wild reservoir” for the disease.
The first judicial review the claimant, Mr Langton, brought was against the introduction of the supplementary culling policy, which began in 2017. Supplementary culling is where badgers are culled in areas where there has already been an intensive cull in an effort to keep their numbers at a reduced level. The legal arguments were that the government’s consultation before the policy was introduced was legally inadequate, and that supplementary culling could not be justified under the disease prevention provisions of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The second challenge was to some of the badger culling licences granted by Natural England. The argument here was that licenses were granted in breach of the assessment requirements of the Habitats Regulations.
As you can see, the two judicial reviews were not questioning the merits of badger culling as a policy. Judicial review is not concerned with merits, but is about whether the government has made decisions lawfully and in accordance with proper procedures.
Sir Ross Cranston dismissed both claims for judicial review.
Spending a day in the RCJ with LSE Professor, Ross Cranston showed us, the professional staff, one of the most rewarding aspects to studying law at LSE. Not only did we have the opportunity to hear how the legal system works first hand, but the Royal Courts of Justice are located little more than a five minute walk from where we work in the New Academic Building so were very easy to get to.
Calling all students, there is no excuse not to go to the courts and listen to the law in action yourselves!