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Justice Secretary presses ahead with bulk of reforms to judicial review process

The Government is to press ahead with the bulk of its proposed reforms to the judicial review process, with the Justice Secretary saying it could no longer be used as a delaying tactic.

The Ministry of Justice’s formal response to its consultation confirmed that the following measures would get the green light:

  • A £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their initial written judicial review application has been turned down.
  • A ban on people seeking a hearing in person if their initial written application has been ruled as totally without merit.
  • Halving of the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a planning decision from three months to six weeks.
  • Reducing the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a procurement decision from three months to four weeks.

The MoJ will invite the Civil Procedure Rules committee to consider the necessary changes to the CPR to give effect to the reforms to time limits and the procedure for applying for permission.

Secondary legislation will be brought forward for the fee for an oral renewal in due course.

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The changes are expected to take place in the summer, the Ministry said.

However, two of the original proposals will now not be implemented. The MoJ said that it would no longer – for cases based on a continuing issue or multiple decisions – seek to clarify the point when the time limit starts.

It has also decided against scrapping oral renewals for any case which has already had a hearing before a judge on substantially the same matter, for example, at a court, tribunal or statutory inquiry.

Certain practical difficulties with these proposals had been highlighted by the responses, the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, said.

Writing in the foreword to the Government’s response, Grayling claimed “a body of support” for the proposals, mainly among businesses and public authorities.

But he acknowledged that most of the 252 responses were opposed to reform. “There was criticism of the consultation procedure and the lack of evidence, and some saw the proposals as a serious attack on the rule of law.”

Grayling said: “I do not accept these criticisms. My reforms target the weak, frivolous and unmeritorious cases, which congest the courts and cause delays.

“I want to discourage those who seek to use judicial review for PR purposes, or as a tactical device to cause delay. But nothing in these reforms will prevent those who have arguable claims from having their cases heard.”

The Government is also considering separate proposals which would see the fee for a judicial review application increase from £60 to £235.

The Justice Secretary said ministers were continuing to review the case for further reform, “in particular to streamline the process for planning and infrastructure projects”. The aim is to develop this by the summer, he added.

A copy of the consultation and the MoJ response can be viewed here

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