‘No more blanket objections to leave applications in judicial review cases’

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will no longer impose a blanket objection to leave applications in judicial review cases as it wants to promote the development of constitutional and administrative law, AG Tommy Thomas said today.

He said the AGC would engage with the Bar and the Rules Committee to repeal the requirement in the Rules of Court 2012 for all cause papers to be served on them.

“Pending the coming into effect of such amendment from the AGC, this henceforth dispenses with the requirement for such service on it,” he said in a statement.

Judicial review applications are filed by aggrieved parties to challenge the decision-making process of public authorities for breaching the rules of natural justice, the written law and the constitution.

An aggrieved party must get leave from the High Court before the merit of the complaints is heard, and a copy of this application is sent to the AGC.

Thomas said there was no need for AGC lawyers to appear in court as the majority of judicial review cases concern employment disputes with employers and trade unions or individual employees, often stemming from awards of the Industrial Court.

“Such disputes are intrinsically private in nature and have no public element.

“For such cases, it is preferable to treat them like ordinary litigation by private parties which do not involve the government.”

He said even in cases involving challenges to the decisions of the executive or statutory corporations, which would necessarily involve public interests, the service would be dispensed with at the leave stage.

“The AGC will give effect to the letter and spirit of the two-stage procedure under judicial review (Order 53),” he said.

“It is for the applicant to satisfy the court on an ex-parte basis that the threshold, however small, has been satisfied.”

However, he said the AGC reserved the right to appear at the leave stage in cases where it would represent the respondent (public authorities) at the inter-partes stage.

He said AGC lawyers would also be present if invited by the court to assist.

Barring exceptional circumstances, he said, the AGC would not seek costs in the event that it succeeds in judicial review proceedings as it recognises the importance of promoting judicial review as a means of developing public law.

He added that the AGC expected its counsel to reciprocate so that public law litigation would be “cost-free” and become an established feature of Malaysian law.