Judicial review 'cannot be used any more as a cheap delaying tactic'
Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, announced this morning that the government is going ahead with restrictions on judicial reviews.
Among the measures are a reduction in time limits for bringing judicial reviews in planning cases from three months to six weeks, and from three months to one month in public procurement cases.
Where applications are certified by a judge as being 'totally without merit', the right to an oral reconsideration will be removed. A new fee of £215 will be introduced for oral renewal hearings, though the fee for the full hearing would be waived where permission is granted.
Under separate proposals fees for judicial review applications would increase from £60 to £235.
However, the government has decided not to scrap oral renewals for any case which had already had a hearing before a judge on 'substantially the same matter', for example at a tribunal or statutory inquiry.
Grayling said the government was changing the system so it "cannot be used any more as a cheap delaying tactic."
He told the Commons in a written statement: "We believe the proposals we are taking forward will tackle delays and reduce the burden of judicial review by filtering out weak, frivolous and unmeritorious cases at an early stage, while ensuring that arguable claims can proceed to a conclusion without delay."
Grayling said the civil procedure rules committee would be asked to consider the changes, which could be in force by the summer. He said the fee increases would need to be implemented by secondary legislation.
The Public Law Project, which specialises in judicial reviews, said in January that the government's consultation was "based on misleading and mistaken" assertions and would make the civil justice system "more unfair, more inefficient and more inaccessible".
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: "Access to justice is a vital ingredient of the rule of law in this country, but if the process can be sensibly expedited, this should be welcomed.
"Planning cases make up a very small number of the total judicial review cases, but by speeding up the process it would deliver significant benefits in terms of enabling development to take place more quickly, by reducing investors' costs and the risks that discourage investment."