Subject: Judicial Review update: proceedings to get underway next week
Napo heard this week that the Hon Mr Justice OUSELEY of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court has ordered the Treasury Solicitor (TSoL) to file its grounds of defence to Napo's application for Judicial Review by this Monday 17th November.
We await notification of a time for a Directions hearing which the parties are required to attend on Tuesday 18th November. This will be a session for technical and preliminary issues, so it will be inappropriate at this stage for Napo members who would wish to show their support to attend. We will issue guidance about this once details of the timetable are clearer.
Last week we advised you of what Napo is looking to achieve by way of the application for interim relief to prevent the CRC share sale taking place, a request for full disclosure of the Testgate processes 1-4 (we have also written to TSoL asking if a Testgate 5 is underway), and a sufficient period for us to review the results of disclosure, if it is ordered, prior to share sale taking place. We are also arguing that the staff split has created what is currently an unsafe operational environment and that it is therefore also unsafe to effect a share sale of the 21 CRC’s.
As we also made clear last week, Mr Grayling’s legal representatives have been arguing for swift expedition of the JR application. However, the Judge has indicated that he remains to be convinced why the case needs to be heard this term and that the sheer logistics mean that it is unlikely that a hearing can be convened until week commencing 8th December and more likely the week commencing 15th December.
Impact on the share sale timetable
Whilst the Directions hearing is obviously crucial in terms of how the JR process will be structured, and the timeline in which it will be dealt with, Napo members can be pleased that we have scored an early blow against the SofS who will in practice be unable to award any contracts to preferred bidders before a final judgement is provided.
Providers of evidence - please be on standby?
As previously stated, the Officers and I are tremendously grateful for the hard work that many members have put into the evidence gathering process. Now that the Defendants have been instructed to submit their evidence by early next week, this will mean that it is likely that we will need to rebut this or (where necessary) corroborate certain aspects of our own evidence very quickly in response.
This means that it is highly likely that we may need some of those individual members who provided material to respond to direct contact which may come from Napo or our lawyers on the private e-mail addresses that you supplied us with. If so, we would be very grateful if you could give any such communication your full and urgent attention?
We will aim to issue another mailout as early as we possibly can, but bear in mind that we may not get into the Directions hearing until late Tuesday, in which case please look out for social media alerts by way of the General Secretary’s Twitter account: @ilawrencel and the Napo website.
The developments this week are encouraging, but there is still a long way to go.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary and the Napo Officer Group