After the 2012 discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a city parking lot in Leicester, the 17th great nephew of the king managed to persuade a UK judge that he has “sufficient interest” in the question of where the remains should be re-interred, to seek judicial review of the discretionary decision of the Justice Secretary granting a license of exhumation under the Burial Act 1857.
The historical figure was killed at the battle of Bosworth Hill on 22 August 1485.
When the decision was made pursuant to the license to move the remains to Leicester Cathedral, the king’s great nephew, descended from the York line, contended Richard of York should be buried at York.
The court held it was “plainly arguable” that the Justice Secretary had a common law duty to consult widely as to how and where the remains should be re-interred.
Apart from its substance, there are two things to note about the judge’s order granting the hearing for judicial review.
First, it contains a ‘protective costs order’ whereby the University of Leicester and the Justice Secretary – the two defendants – were prevented from recovering their costs from the claimants, and the claimant’s costs were capped. Protective costs orders are appropriate (see para 36) where it is “fair and just” given the parties’ relative financial resources and the likely amount of costs involved.
Second, the order requires “Skeletons to be exchanged one week before the substantive hearing”.