Judicial Review: “Frivolous”, “meritless” and “… a cheap delaying tactic” – says Justice Secretary Chris Grayling

The Ministry of Justice plans to increase legal fees on Judicial Reviews and put in place tighter deadlines for applications on planning permission decisions to reduce the number of Judicial Reviews.

Judicial Review requires senior judges to review cases which have been requested by an individual or an association who desires to challenge the legality of decisions or policies made by a public body (which also includes laws passed by the government).

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has carried out a six-week consultation regarding the issue of the increasing numbers of Judicial Review applications. The Ministry of Justice accuses Judicial Reviews of being “a cheap delaying tactic” as the large majority of applications are immigration cases. In 2011, there had been 8,734 immigration Judicial Reviews made. However, only 31 of these applications had been successful which, indicates that perhaps many of these applications had been as “meritless” as Grayling suggested.

Ministers also carefully considered the potential effects on economic growth. Recently, some of the Judicial Review applications involve constructing projects and planning decisions which is “stifling” economic development. This is said to be particularly frustrating as the issue of encouraging economic growth has been a prevailing problem for Britain.

It was declared that new controls and measures will have to be considered in order to ensure that Judicial Reviews are not used for “PR purposes”. Grayling claims that allowing genuine challenges to be made is one of the Ministry of Justices priorities. The effects of the proposals are expected to take place in the summer.

–       A court fee of £215 will be introduced when the first written applications have been rejected.

–       People will be prevented from seeking a hearing in person if their applications have been regarded as completely without merit

–       A shorter deadline of six weeks (which, was originally three months) will be put in place for Judicial Review applications on planning decisions.

Many have argued against these proposals and pressure groups have claimed that it will be an “assault on legal safeguards”. Immigration lawyers seem to have condemned the government’s proposals. Charities and civil liberties groups have disputed with the government over the proposals. Shami Chakrabarti (the Judicial Review director) has said “Judicial review is vital in allowing ordinary people to hold the state to account”.

In today’s society, Judicial Review is considered incredibly important. It is evident that sufficient checks must be carried out on public bodies so that they can be held accountable for their actions and decisions. It is argued that through Judicial Reviews no sections of the community are discriminated and the government is prevented from abusing their powers. Moreover, they not only preserve the rule of law but they uphold and enforce the European Convention on Human Rights.

 Kaeshelle Cooke