Improving civil servants’ understanding of administrative law: The Judge Over Your Shoulder
Since 1988, the UK has provided civil servants with a guide to the basic principles of administrative law. Known as The Judge Over Your Shoulder (JOYS), it is written in accessible language for readers who do not have any qualifications in law. Practical issues addressed in JOYS include matters such as how to run a public consultation exercise, provide reasons for a decision, or prepare a legal defence if a decision is challenged in the courts. JOYS is regularly updated and a new edition was published in 2016 (see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/538447/160708_JOYS_final.pdf) . Government lawyers use JOYS as a source of training material for their training sessions with civil servants, and civil servants also keep it handy as a reference guide.
Senior government lawyers interviewed by the Bingham Centre have praised JOYS for raising the standard of administration, reducing the need for civil servants to obtain legal advice (thus saving significant sums of money), and helping civil servants to make decisions that have a better chance of surviving judicial review. JOYS has been adapted and used in countries as diverse as Hong Kong, Malawi and New Zealand.
In 2017, The Rule of Law Alliance and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law began adapting the JOYS model to the reality of Central America, beginning in Costa Rica; under two main components in order to provide a Rule of Law compliance tool for Government departments and institutions and for Municipalities.
You can also be a part of this project, participate in the JOYS session discussion at the 2016 Rule of Law Conference next December 7th and contribute with ideas in order to identify priorities and challenges on how to implement this project in Costa Rica.