Press release

Grayling: unclogging the courts to bring swifter justice

Costly and spurious review cases which clog up the courts, delay justice and place a heavy burden on the tax-payer are to be reformed.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Costly and spurious review cases which clog up the courts, delay justice and place a heavy burden on the tax-payer are to be reformed under plans announced today by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The plan is to reduce the number of ill-founded judicial review applications so that others can be dealt with more swiftly and effectively.

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.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

‘Judicial Review is an important way to hold authorities to account and ensure decisions are lawful.

‘However there has been a huge growth in the use of judicial review, far beyond what was originally intended. The numbers of applications has rocketed in the past three decades, from 160 in 1974 to 11,200 last year - an increase of almost 7,000%. At the same time, the proportion of successful applications is very low. In 2011 only one in six applications determined were granted permission to be heard and even fewer were successful when they went ahead.
‘The Government is concerned about the burdens that ill-conceived cases are placing on stretched public services as well as the unnecessary costs and lengthy delays which are stifling innovation and economic growth.

‘We plan to renew the system so that Judicial Reviews will continue their important role but the courts and economy are no longer hampered by having to deal with applications brought forward even though the applicant knows they have no chance of success. We will publish our proposals shortly.’

The measures which will be considered include:

  • Shortening the length of time following an initial decision that an application for a judicial review can be made in some cases - and stopping people from using tactical delays
  • Halving the number of opportunities currently available to challenge the refusal of permission for a judicial review, from the current four to two
  • Reforming the current fees so that they cover the costs of providing judicial review proceedings.

A public engagement exercise on the plans will be carried out shortly. The next steps will be set out in the New Year following consideration of responses.

These proposals are the latest of a series of moves to make the justice system more efficient and effective. These have included introducing flexible operating hours in criminal courts, increasing the use of video links between courts, prisons and police stations and abolishing committal hearings for Crown Court cases.

Notes to editors:

  1. Information about how the justice system works, how judges reach their sentencing decisions and how courts in each area are performing is available on the Open Justice website.
  2. For more information, please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us on twitter @MoJPress.
Published 19 November 2012