UKLFI Charitable Trust held a webinar on Judicial Review in Israel and the UK with Stephen Hockman KC and Prof Eugene Kontorovich, chaired by Natasha Hausdorff on Tuesday 14 February.
Israel’s Justice Minister, MK Yariv Levin, has announced plans for major judicial reforms in Israel. These include enabling the Knesset, by a special majority of 61 out of 120 MKs, to suspend Supreme Court annulments of legislation; clarifying that government action cannot be blocked on non-statutory grounds, such as unreasonableness; changes to the committee that selects judges, giving the government more power; enabling government ministers to choose their legal advisers; and ending the practice instituted by the Supreme Court that views of advisers bind the government.
The proposals are highly controversial in Israel. There have been massive demonstrations against them and the President of Israel’s Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, has described them as “a plan to crush the justice system”. However, supporters of the proposals argue that the current powers assumed by Israel’s Supreme Court in the “judicial revolution” of the 1990s have no democratic legitimacy, are excessive, and out of line with many other democratic countries.
In this webinar leading experts will compare judicial review in Israel and the UK, including the powers of courts to override decisions of democratically elected parliaments and governments.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, specializing in constitutional and international law. Previously he was a professor at Northwestern University School of Law for 11 years. He is the author of dozens of academic articles in the leading law reviews and peer-reviewed journals. His scholarship has been cited in leading international law cases in the U.S. and abroad. He is head of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem-based think tank, and recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent experts on international law and the Israel-Arab conflict. Prof Kontorovich plays a leading role in many Israel-related policy matters, and is regarded as the “intellectual architect” of US state laws regarding boycotts of Israel.
Stephen Hockman KC practises as a barrister from Chambers in London specialising in regulatory law. He has been a QC/KC since 1990 and was Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales in 2006. He is a leading practitioner in the fields of Environmental, Health and Safety, Energy and Natural Resources, Planning and Local Government Law. His work involves, in particular, making and resisting public law challenges to local and national government decisions. Stephen is a Patron of UK Lawyers for Israel and UKLFI Charitable Trust.
Natasha Hausdorff is a barrister at 6 Pump Court Chambers, and a frequent speaker on International Law. She has a law degree from Oxford University, qualified as a solicitor at Skadden, and subsequently gained an LLM from Tel Aviv University, focussing on public international law and the law of armed conflict. She clerked for Miriam Naor, President of Israel’s Supreme Court, and was a Fellow at Columbia Law School’s National Security Program. Natasha is legal director of UKLFI Charitable Trust.