What is Judicial Review?

Last Reviewed: May, 2023 Reviewed by: JES Download

Limits of This Guide

Judicial review is a technical process. There are many rules and legal principles that must be considered. This is a general guide and you will likely benefit from specific advice or guidance. .

If at all possible, get a lawyer with experience with Judicial Review to help, even if you intend on representing yourself at the hearing. If you lose a Judicial Review you could have costs awarded against you so it is important to be prepared and get good advice. A lawyer can let you know your chances of success in bringing a judicial review, what you might ultimately get out of the process, and help you increase your chances of success. For more information on how to find a lawyer, see Get Help.

This information only covers judicial review of decisions made by British Columbia tribunals. The procedure for reviewing decisions of federal tribunals is set out in federal legislation called the Federal Courts Act and in the Federal Court Rules. A decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board dismissing a claim for refugee status is an example of a federal tribunal decision. This does not provide any information about judicial reviews of federal tribunal decisions.

Learn More

For information on starting an application for judicial review in Federal Court, click here.

What is Judicial Review?

The government creates tribunals to resolve disputes and implement certain laws and policies, such as resolving residential landlord and tenant issues. Tribunals are specialized decision makers because their decisions concern a specific subject area (such as workers’ compensation, or landlord and tenant issues). 

Judicial review is a process where the Court is asked to review the decision of an administrative tribunal to see if their decision was unreasonable or unfair. 

Here are some examples of the situations where you can apply for a judicial review:

Motor Vehicle Act Issues:

An individual has been issued an “Immediate Roadside Prohibition” for refusing a breathalyzer. The individual challenged that prohibition with the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The individual can apply for judicial review of that decision. 

Residential Tenancy Act Issues:

A landlord has given notice to a tenant to move out. A Dispute Resolution Officer at the Residential Tenancy Board has heard the case and agrees with the landlord. The tenant can apply for judicial review of that decision.

Workers’ Compensation Act Issues:

The Workers Compensation Appeals tribunal has made a decision that a worker has not suffered a permanent disability. The worker can apply for judicial review of that decision.

What Judicial Review is not

A judicial review is not a re-trial or a rehearing of your case. The judge does not focus on whether they would have made a different decision from the one made by the tribunal.

In a judicial review, the judge generally focuses on determining whether the tribunal had the authority to make a particular decision and whether the tribunal exercised that authority in a fair and reasonable way.

The government has given tribunals the authority to make decisions about certain issues. The Court recognizes that tribunals have specialized knowledge and experience in their particular subject areas and, because of that, the Court will not easily interfere with a tribunal’s decision.

Get Help

CLAS Online Intake Form If you are doing a judicial review, or otherwise going to court, for work-related legal issues, human rights, access to government benefits, housing evictions, or mental health and would like some information or advice specific to your situation, fill out this form and then follow the instructions in the email you get.

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