Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Judicial review reform – policy announcements and further consultations

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Following the consultation on Reforming Judicial Review, launched in December 2012, and despite widespread opposition, in May 2013 it was announced that the Government would:
• Introduce a £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their initial written judicial review application has been turned down.
• Ban people from seeking a hearing in person if their initial written application has been ruled as totally without merit.
• Halve the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a planning decision from three months to six weeks.
• Reduce the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a procurement decision from three months to four weeks.
The first of these changes is awaiting implementation. The other changes came into effect in July 2013. In addition the Government is contemplating separate proposals which would see the fee for a Judicial Review application increase from £60 to £235.

In September 2013, the Government published a further consultation paper on the reform of judicial review.
It noted that the bulk of immigration and asylum cases would no longer go to the Administrative Court, but to the Immigration and Asylum Chambers in the Tribunals Service.

The paper argues that unreformed judicial review has three negative impacts:
• It inhibits economic development by causing delay to major projects;
• It is used by campaign groups as a political tool; and
• It adds to the cost of implementing executive decisions.
Not surprisingly each of these arguments is hotly disputed by the opponents of reform.

The new consultation requests views in six areas:
• planning challenges, and whether these should be sent to a new Planning Chamber within the Upper Tribunal, with specialist planning judges;
• the question of standing, i.e. who is entitled to apply for judicial review. It is noted that any changes will have to reflect the Aarhus Convention, which gives organisations who promote environmental issues and certain individuals the right to make challenges on environmental issues;
• how the courts deal with minor procedural defects, and whether this can be improved;
• the use of judicial review to resolve disputes relating to the public sector equality duty;
• whether the current arrangements for costs provide the right financial incentives, including legal aid; and
• the scope for making greater use of “leapfrogging” orders, so that appropriate cases can move quickly to the Supreme Court, cutting out the Court of Appeal.

Announcements on the outcome of these proposals will be published in late 2013-early 2014.
Source: adapted from  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/specialist-planning-court-proposed-to-boost-uk-business and https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/judicial-review

The views of the Secretary of State on the use of JR by pressure groups can be found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2413135/CHRIS-GRAYLING-Judicial-review-promotional-tool-Left-wing-campaigners.html

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Written by lwtmp

October 24, 2013 at 8:48 am

Posted in chapter 6

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