Red light to litigation gives green light to Camden cyclists

27 Mar 2020

Local Government, Public Law and Judicial Review

By order dated 4 March 2020, Knowles J refused permission to Imperial London Hotels Limited (“ILHL”) to bring a judicial review claim challenging the decision of Camden’s Cabinet on 13 November 2019 to finalise a traffic scheme in central London, under which two vehicular lanes of traffic were replaced by one and one cycle lane was replaced by two.

Following the above order, ILHL agreed not to renew its application for permission to proceed and on 24 March 2020 paid Camden’s costs in the agreed sum of £33,000.

This brought to an end a long-running litigation between ILHL and Camden concerning the traffic scheme, which governs a corridor between Tottenham Court Road to the west and Judd Street/Hunter Street to the east, running along Torrington Place, Byng Place, the south-eastern arm of Gordon Square, Tavistock Square and Tavistock Place.

The reasons for refusal given by Knowles J may be of general interest to public law practitioners. In particular, she accepted Camden’s submissions as follows:

The content of the Cabinet report was a matter for officers, exercising their expert judgement on the material before them. (And therefore, criticisms of the content of the report could not found a successful judicial review, unless the exercise of that judgement was flawed in public law terms.)

Members should be taken to have read the detailed information contained in technical appendices to the Cabinet report.

Minor (admitted) errors in the report, which did not have the result of significantly misleading Members about material matters, could not found a successful judicial review.

Challenges to a consultation process carried out between November 2018 and January 2019 and which informed the Cabinet decision in November 2019 were out of time (the grounds for bringing such challenges having first arisen in January 2019).

In any event, improvements which, with the benefit of hindsight, might have been made to the consultation process were not the yardstick by which the lawfulness of the consultation process was to be evaluated.

A copy of Knowles J’s order and reasons for refusal can be found HERE.

Matt Hutchings QC, leading Jane Oldham of 11 KBW, represented Camden, instructed by Michael Smith of London Borough of Camden Legal Services.