Judicial review is the system through which an individual ought to be able to go to a court and ask for a review of whether state action in respect of a certain issue is lawful. If the answer is no, there are various remedies the court can deploy to ensure government complies with the law. In performing this role, the courts are often said to be doing the job of upholding the Rule of Law. This simple account of judicial review is, as Harry Street once observed, ‘a nice idea … but we just don’t have it.’ This has been so for a range of reasons in recent history. Perhaps the primary failing of the present judicial review system is one of expense: judicial review is a ‘Rolls-Royce’ process that few can afford. This state of affairs was recently described as ‘public law’s disgrace.’ have started to use crowdfunding platforms to raise money in order to bring judicial review claims.4 Crowdfunded claims have included high-profile ‘public interest’ challenges on new policies relating to junior doctors’ pay and the triggering of Brexit under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Although there is an increasing volume of crowdfunded judicial reviews, little has been said about this change – a shift which is, essentially, citizens using technology to gain access to an administrative justice processes in a way they may not have otherwise been able to.
In this chapter I explain how crowdfunding works and the changes in practice we have seen in recent years, particularly in relation to public interest judicial review cases.