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Government Legal Department issues updated guidance for civil servants on legal environment in which decisions in public bodies are made

The Government Legal Department has released an updated version of its guidance – “the Judge Over Your Shoulder” – that is aimed at helping civil servants navigate the legal frameworks within which public bodies, particularly Government, make decisions.

First published in 1987 and last updated in 2016, the guidance is now on its sixth edition. Changes covered in the 2022 edition include the Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022.

The cases considered reflect current legal positions as of May 2022, with insight provided by government lawyers, the GLD said. The publication also considers legal concepts, including consultation, proportionality and justiciability.

The guidance covers:

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  • How to use the guidance
  • Checklist for making decisions
  • Good administration – and administrative law
  • Decisions and decision making
  • Judicial review
  • The public sector equality duty
  • Devolution
  • EU exit and EU relations
  • Various appendices including on the EHCR rights in the Human Rights Act 1998

The GLD described it as “still a pivotal piece of guidance for civil servants on what to expect when working with government lawyers, allowing for effective collaboration and lowering the risk of legal challenge”.

It added that the guidance is “highly regarded across the legal profession and is an important resource for civil servants advising Ministers and supporting government decision making”.

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