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Unclogging the courts

The problem of costly and spurious review cases clogging up the courts will be tackled by new plans announced by Chris Grayling.

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

The problem of costly and spurious review cases clogging up the courts will be tackled by new plans announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The proposals would 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 judicial reviews play in holding Government and others to account but will instead deal with the unnecessary delays in the system. The number of applications has rocketed in the past three decades, from 160 in 1974 to 11,200 last year but the proportion of successful applications is very low. In 2011 only one in six applications determined were granted permission to be heard.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

‘The Government is concerned about the burdens 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 up to four currently, 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.

Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. For more information please visit:

Published 19 November 2012