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Government seeks to curb judicial review

The Ministry of Justice has announced that it plans to reform the judicial review process in order to reduce "weak or ill-conceived cases" and ease the burden on the courts.

Judicial review is the process by which individuals can apply to the Administrative Court to review the decision of a public body on the grounds of illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety. A claimant must initially apply for permission for judicial review. The subject matter of applications is varied, although certain areas (such as planning decisions) attract a high proportion of applications. If permission is granted, the Court will then review the decision.  Unlike an appeal, the Court does not consider the merits of the decision per se, but rather the process by which it was made and whether it was ultra vires - i.e. beyond the parameters of the law.

Approximately 11,000 applications were made last year, with 1 in 6 being granted permission to be heard. In announcing the government's intention to reform the system, Justice secretary Chris Grayling said "Judicial Review is an important way to hold authorities to account and ensure decisions are lawful. However there has been a huge growth in the use of judicial review, far beyond what was originally intended."

The measures which the Ministry of Justice says it is considering include: shortening the time limit for bringing applications, reducing the scope for challenging the refusal of permission, and reforming the fee structure so that fees cover the cost of the proceedings. A public consultation will take place in due course.

A full copy of the Ministry of Justice's press release 'Unclogging the Courts' can be found at:


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