In July this year, the Ministry of Justice announced that it was planning to make it tougher for judicial reviews to be brought to court, following concerns that the procedure was being abused by pressure groups and campaigners. It seems that UK Government ministers are concerned that some are using the process as a ‘delaying tactic’ or to generate publicity, thereby wasting time and delaying policy being implemented.
UK Government’s Concerns: Current Judicial Review
After reviewing the process, UK Government ministers found that the number of cases clogging up the courts had increased dramatically since the 1970’s. This has led to plans to make the test that needs to be passed for bringing a judicial review much more stringent so as to limit the judicial reviews being bought.
Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has insisted judicial reviews will remain for genuine cases so as not to discourage the public from bringing cases where they believe local authorities should be held to account for their decisions. Chris Grayling went further to state his concern that the judicial review process is being used as a delay tactic.
Judicial Review ‘open to abuse’
“We’re looking at making some changes so that the system isn’t open to abuse by groups who may not have a direct interest in the issue at hand but simply want to cause delay or disruption to plans or generate publicity for themselves.”
There are now around 12,000 applications for judicial reviews, mostly relating to immigration and asylum cases, contrasted to around 160 in 1974.
MOJ: Changes to made to Judicial Review Process
Ministers plan to change the test for applying for a review so that only people with a direct link to policies or the decision made by the public body can challenge it, instead of anyone with a ‘sufficient interest.’ The concerns reiterate those of David Cameron who has stated in the past that the judicial review process was slowing the country’s economic growth.
However, despite changes being made for the better, it seems that there are concerns that altering the judicial review process could cause government decisions to go unchecked. As reported yesterday, immigration judicial review cases are to be transferred to the Upper Tribunal so it remains to be seen what other changes are now to be made in the future.