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18 Jud. Rev. 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/judire18 and id is 1 raw text is: Judicial Review - Storm Clouds Ahead?
Richard Gordon
Brick Court Chambers
1. On 13 December 2012 the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced a consultation
paper with detailed proposals to reduce the impact of ill-founded judicial reviews that
are slowing down the courts. This is the first time the Government has mounted a
head-on attack on judicial review. It is one which, perhaps unwittingly, reveals the
impatience of the executive with what it implicitly perceives to be an unnecessary con-
straint on its powers. It raises wider issues than mere procedural tinkering and is, as
suggested below, of a piece with the stance of the present Government towards the
European law emanating from Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
2. The content of the proposals is ostensibly anodyne. It focuses on procedure and admin-
istration comprising, principally:
* Reducing the time limits for bringing planning and procurement cases from three
months to (respectively) six weeks and 30 days after an initial decision has been
made. The consultation also asks whether there are other types of cases in which a
shorter time limit might be appropriate.
* Preventing ongoing decisions from being the subject of review by making the time
limit one of promptness or, in any event, three months from when the claimant knew
or ought to have known of the grounds for challenge.
* Removing the right to an oral hearing where a judge refuses permission where there
has been a prior judicial process hearing substantially the same issue or where a
claim has been judged to be totally without merit. The right to appeal to the Court
of Appeal against such decision would be on the papers only.
* Introducing a new fee of E215 (which could rise to E235 under separate consultation
proposals) for an oral renewal. If the oral renewal were successful, the fee would be
refunded.
3. The real significance is not necessarily what is proposed but, rather, the manner of the
proposals including their tone and the political rhetoric accompanying them (especially
when matched with similar rhetoric over decisions of the Strasbourg Court).
4. It is the tone of scarcely concealed impatience more than the content that may be a
pointer to future (perhaps post-election) government plans to weaken judicial review as
a process. In the press release (though not the consultation paper) the Justice Secretary
says this:
I am concerned that Judicial Review is being used increasingly by organisations for PR
purposes. Often the mere process of starting a Judicial Review will generate a headline.
5. This echoes the Prime Minister's words in a speech to the CBI last November that
judicial review had become a massive growth industry.
6. The tone of statements such as these suggests that the Government's real target may (at
least as a starter) be limiting those who can bring judicial review rather than tightening

[2013] JR DOI: 10.5235/10854681.18.1.1

1

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