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Judicial reviews altered to avoid ‘cheap’ delays

A series of changes have been announced to the judicial review system, slashing the time limit to apply against planning and procurement decisions.

The changes, designed to prevent the system being used as “a cheap delaying tactic”, will come into force this summer.

They include:

  • Halving the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a planning decision from three months to six weeks;
  • Reducing the time limit for applying for a judicial review of a procurement decision from three months to four weeks.
  • The introduction of a £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their initial written judicial review application has been turned down;
  • Banning people from seeking a hearing in person if their initial written application has been ruled as totally without merit.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “Judicial Review should be used by people who have carefully considered whether they have proper grounds to challenge a decision. We are changing the system so it cannot be used anymore as a cheap delaying tactic.”

The changes were made after a six-week consultation.

A recent swathe of judicial review challenges were recently overcome by High Speed 2 at the High Court.

British Property Federation chief executive welcomed the move, saying: “Access to justice is a vital ingredient of the rule of law in this country, but if the process can be sensibly expedited, this should be welcomed.

“Planning cases make up a very small number of the total judicial review cases, but by speeding up the process it would deliver significant benefits in terms of enabling development to take place more quickly, by reducing investors’ costs and the risks that discourage investment.

“A less talked about, but equally important impact, is the cost to local planning authorities and hence the tax payer.  They have to spend significant resources in defending each claim, resources which they are increasingly unable to recover, even where the claim fails.”

WSP head of infrastructure Duncan Symonds added: “This is good news. To maintain our global competitiveness and attract investors we need to be able to get infrastructure projects off the ground, systematically, without delay.

“You only have to look at how our European neighbours manage public consultation to see how slow and complicated our process is by comparison. Putting aside all other elements like quality and proper planning, the fact is that during the ten years that Crossrail was debated China built three railways.

“We need to find the right balance between the competing priorities of proper consultation and an efficient process.”

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