Ministry of Justice
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Grayling: No more using judicial review as a cheap delaying tactic

The culture of using meritless judicial review applications to delay immigration decisions and hold up development will be attacked by new controls announced today by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The changes will tackle the soaring number of judicial review applications being made in England and Wales.

New figures show the number of applications rose from 6,692 in 2007 to 11,359 in 2011 – but just one in six were granted permission to proceed beyond the earliest stages and the number which were ultimately successful fell from 187 to 144.

Immigration cases make up the vast majority of the total. There were 8,734 judicial review applications made in 2011 as an attempt to overturn an immigration decision – but only 607 were considered suitable for a hearing and only 31 were ultimately successful.

Despite the low success rate, cases which were refused at the first stage in 2011 still took an average of 83 days to be dealt with, while cases which went through to a hearing took an average of 275 days.

The changes announced today have been designed to drive out meritless applications to speed up the court system for people with genuine cases.

The measures include:

  • Introducing a £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their initial written judicial review application has been turned down.
  • Banning people from seeking a hearing in person if their initial written application has been ruled as totally without merit.
  • Halving 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.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

‘Judicial Review should be used by people who have carefully considered whether they have proper grounds to challenge a decision. We are changing the system so it cannot be used anymore as a cheap delaying tactic.’

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.

The final package of measures was confirmed today following a consultation which ran from December to January.

Court rules will now be put in place to implement the changes, which are expected to take effect this summer.

The changes complement separate proposals being considered which would also see the fee for a Judicial Review application increase from £60 to £235.

Notes to editors:

  1. View the consultation and response document.

  2. Two of the consultation proposals have not been taken forward following consideration of responses. They were:
    • For cases based on a continuing issue or multiple decisions – clarifying the point when the time limit starts, to avoid long delays.
    • 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.
  3. Judicial Review is a process which individuals, businesses and other affected parties can use to challenge the lawfulness of decisions or actions of the Executive, including those of Ministers, local authorities, other public bodies and those exercising public functions. Only those with sufficient interest are able to bring a case and they must first obtain permission for their case to be heard fully.

  4. The Court’s permission is required for a claim for Judicial Review to proceed. Decisions on permission are normally considered on a review of the papers filed. Permission may be granted in full, or limited to certain grounds set out in the claim. Where the Court refuses permission, the claimant may request that the decision is reconsidered at a hearing in person. If refused at that hearing, the claimant can appeal to the Court of Appeal.

  5. For more information contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 0203 334 3536. Follow us @MoJPress