Following my written ministerial statement to the House on 19 November 2012, Official Report, column 22WS, I have today laid and published a paper (Cm 8515) proposing a set of reforms of judicial review on which we are seeking views.
The paper sets out a range of proposals designed to tackle the burden that the growth in judicial review applications has placed on stretched public services. The Government recognise that judicial review should remain an essential means of holding authorities to account and ensuring that decisions are lawful, and is committed to ensuring that access to justice and the rule of law are protected. We are however keen to seek views on how the process might be improved, and the proposals focus on the procedural aspects of judicial review in three areas.
First, we are seeking views on reducing the time limits for bringing a judicial review relating to procurement or planning, bringing them into line with the appeal timetable which already applies to those cases. More generally, we also see merit in clarifying the point at which the time-limit begins for any case with a continuing or series of breaches that give rise to the claim.
Secondly, we are seeking views on removing the right to an oral renewal where a judge refuses permission where there has been a prior judicial process, or where the claim was judged to be totally without merit. The right to appeal to the Court of Appeal would be on the papers.
Thirdly, we are seeking views on the introduction of a new fee for an oral renewal so that fees charged in judicial review proceedings better reflect the costs of providing the service. If the oral renewal is successful, the fee for post permission stages would be waived.
Together, these provide a balanced, practicable and targeted approach to ensure that legitimate claims are brought more quickly and efficiently to a resolution without affecting the right to properly hold the Executive and other public bodies to account.
The engagement exercise will close on 24 January. We will consider the responses to the paper carefully and will consult with the judiciary before taking decisions on any action, and we will publish a Government response as soon as possible in the new year, setting out those proposals we intend to take forward.