The application by the Press Standards Board of Finance Limited (“PressBoF”) for an an injunction to restrain the grant of the Cross-Party Charter has been listed for a hearing tomorrow, 30 October 2013, at 10.30am in Court 68 at the Royal Courts of Justice before Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Sales.
The application for judicial review was issued yesterday and the Statement of Facts and Grounds [pdf] was published by the press. Unfortunately they have not, despite their well known commitment to open justice, made available the Witness Statements of Guy Black and Julian Gizzi (of Lord Hunt’s law firm, DAC Beachcroft LLP) which support the application. The application was, in the ordinary way, considered by a judge on the papers today, and he or she has directed an oral hearing tomorrow.
This hearing will deal with the quesiton of whether permission to apply for judicial review should be granted and, if it is granted, whether there should be an interim injunction to restrain the consideration of the Cross-Party Charter by the Privy Council tomorrow.
The claim for an interim injunction is very difficult to follow. It is said that
(a) The Defendants (that is, the eight Government ministers who are being sued) have denied that an order made by the Privy Council can be challenged by way of judicial review ((a)). This is a contention which is rejected by PressBoF as being obviously wrong ( – ).
(b) If the Court agreed with the Defendants then, if the claim were to be successful, PressBoF would have no remedy because it would be confronted by a “non-justiciable Order” granting the Government Charter. In other words, the claim might succeed but turn out to be futile.
The difficulty with this argument is obvious. If (contrary to the PressBoF case) an Order in Council was not judicially reviewable then the Order dismissing the PressBoF charter application (which has already been made) would still stand even if the claim succeeded. An injunction restraining the grant of the Cross-Party Charter would not help on this point. The claim would be futile in any event.
In truth, it is obvious that an Order in Council can be judicially reviewed so an injunction is plainly unnecessary.
It will be interesting to see how these matters are dealt with by the Court tomorrow morning.