Supreme Court Rules Grayling’s Changes to Legal Aid ‘Ultra Vires’

A great article here for a number of sections of the course. Grayling, when Justice Secretary had made changes to legal aid – restricting its application to those that had been resident in the UK for at least 12 months. Many felt that this was discriminatory and judicial review cases were lodged.

However, further muddying the waters is the fact that Grayling made this amendment through a statutory instrument rather than primary legislation. Statutory instruments are a power given to the government to allow them to make minor changes to existing legislation without requiring a lengthy process through Parliament. This is useful for Unit 2 – powers of the executive and a way they can circumvent Parliament’s scrutiny. The article explains statutory instruments well and it is worth noting that there has been increasing concern about the current government’s frequent use of these (Osborne tried to use a statutory instrument to push cuts to tax credits).

This issue has slowly worked its way through the court system until it hit the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has ruled that Grayling did not have the powers to make this change to the legislation (ultra vires). A great recent example for Unit 2 Judiciary.

This example can also be used as Unit 3 evidence for law and order (note that Gove has said he will try to secure this measure using primary legislation so it is still a planned change)and for the economy (an attempted way to cut spending).




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