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Unclogging the courts 22/11/2012 Costly and spurious review cases which clog up the courts in England and Wales are to be reformed under plans announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling this week

Unclogging the courts

Costly and spurious review cases which clog up the courts in England and Wales, delay justice and place a heavy burden on the tax-payer are to be reformed under plans announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling this week.

The plan is to reduce the number of ill-founded judicial review applications so that others can be dealt with more swiftly and effectively.

The Government says that the changes will not alter the important role that judicial reviews play in holding Government and others to account, but will instead deal with the unnecessary delays in the system and the weak or ill-conceived cases which are submitted even when the applicant knows they have no chance of success.

“Judicial review is an important way to hold authorities to account and ensure decisions are lawful,” said Mr Grayling. “However there has been a huge growth in the use of judicial review, far beyond what was originally intended. The numbers of applications has rocketed in the past three decades, from 160 in 1974 to 11,200 last year – an increase of almost 7,000%. At the same time, the proportion of successful applications is very low. In 2011 only one in six applications determined were granted permission to be heard and even fewer were successful when they went ahead.”

The changes which will be considered in England and Wales include:

  • Shortening the length of time following an initial decision that an application for a judicial review can be made in some cases – and stopping people from using tactical delays;
  • Halving the number of opportunities currently available to challenge the refusal of permission for a judicial review, from the current four to two;
  • Reforming the current fees so that they cover the costs of providing judicial review proceedings.
     

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