20 December 2012 - Government plans to severely limit Judicial Review applications

Accessibility

As proposals are introduced to severely limit the ability of organisations and individuals to launch Judicial Review applications in the High Court (QBD), Benjamin-Elijah Gareth - Principal Advocate at Gareth Group Law comments:

A lot of our work relates to Judicial Review applications against government departments. We find that Judicial Review is an effective tool to reestablish the balance between perceived necessity for the government to introduce limiting departmental procedures against the need of the public to be protected from draconian measures affecting our welfare benefits system, the need for promotion of high standards of customer service within the public sector and in promoting true democratic freedom. 

Chris Grayling - Secretary of State for the Ministry of JusticeChris Grayling, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice (left) is proposing a limit on the amount of time available for launching Judicial Review applications from 3 months to 6 weeks. This is despite the time frame standing to be regularly exceeded when a Claimant follows the Pre-Action Protocol which insists that a Claimant gives 14 days notice to a Defendant under Part 54 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and through the necessity of a potential Claimant to gather evidence. 

As it is imperative for a Claimant to gather evidence and at a time when government departments are providing less decisions in writing, such requests for evidence by the Claimant will inevitably lead to significant delays well beyond the new proposed 6 week cut off for issuing Judicial Review applications and effectively leading to the deprivation of the ability to request Judicial Review of government decisions for many.

Some that are sceptical may argue that the government will deliberately cut down on the provision of government decisions in writing, such as a full explanation and decision letters for Community Care Grants to deliberately delay the Claimant beyond the proposed Judicial Review time limitations. 

Further, to support this view, Mr Grayling is proposing further limitations including on the amount of times a Claimant can bring a claim back to Judicial Review, for example, when a Claimant has managed to accumulate further evidence to substantiate their claim comparable to a previous application on the same grounds for the same desired outcome that was rejected through a lack of substantiating evidence. 

Less evidence provided at the Judicial Review Application Stage by the Claimant whilst waiting for further evidence will often sway the Judge in their deliberations as to whether the claim is objective or "spurious". This decision is one that is solely made by the Judge considering an application.

Spurious claims are incidentally the government's reasoning for the proposed limitations despite their proposals forcing more claims into spurious territory through the Claimant not having had the time to state their case. Such an argument would likely be valid in the Supreme Court under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 - Right to a Fair Trial to challenge the government should the proposals be made permanent policy. 

High Court Judges have time and time again called for the distance between the Judiciary and Parliament to be maintained yet the Judiciary has always reserved the right to consider a case to "open the floodgates" to many more claims, regardless of it's potential to succeed and such Claimant's have found their cases to be rejected simply because the government has not put enough money in the Judiciary coffers to cope with the influx of potential claims. 

In respect of the time limitation proposals, the government has stated that one of the primary reasons is to limit the number of Judicial Review applications made by asylum seekers.

However, the BBC suggests in the interview (below) that the number of Judicial Review applications has remained relatively static in the last 30 years and the only increase, in fact, is the number of asylum cases blocking up the system. In the same interview it is claimed, with agreement from Mr Grayling, that around 8,500 of the 10,500 cases per year bought to Judicial Review are asylum related cases. Non asylum related cases are expected to have only risen by around 500 cases a year in the last 15 years.

As the issue was debated within the House of Commons live on BBC Parliament TV, today, it quickly emerged that more and more Administrative Court Judges were issuing orders which allowed asylum seekers to pursue their claims in their own countries to free up the system. It was argued that the system was already working very well and that there was no need for the time limit to be reduced for claims to be bought. 

If you work within the legal or advocacy sector within an Administrative Law role, please do share your views. Similarly, if you are a member of the public who is curious about these changes or about Gareth Group Law, you can contact us for non legal advice by selecting our contact link. Gareth Group Law and Roof, our sister homelessness project are always looking for volunteers and donations towards our work. 

The following is a link to an interview with The Justice Minister on the proposed changes. You can also write to your MP to raise your objections by visiting the website listed below in "Useful Links", by supplying your postcode to find your local MP and by sending an Email. Alternatively, you may wish to write to the House of Commons public postal address. 

 

Useful Links

Find your local MP - http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices

Interview with Chris Grayling on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme - http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9778000/9778828.stm

 

Notes to Editors

1. Gareth Group Law is an advocacy organisation founded and directed by Principal Advocate Benjamin-Elijah Gareth - Advocate. 

2. Gareth Group Law campaigns on issues of social justice and takes an active interest in legislative changes that may impact on societies access to fundamental rights and freedoms that may or may not impede the promotion of human rights in addition to promoting proper, fair, competent and non discriminatory access to public services. 

3. Gareth Group Law Advocates are not Barristers or Solicitors and we do not provide legal advice as we are not permitted to do so. We are clear about this in all of our dealings and in keeping with the Solicitors Regulation Act 1974. We specialise as Advocates in Administrative and Housing Law. 

3. Gareth Group Law offers McKenzie friend services to those who can not afford or are otherwise unable to secure legal help.We reserve sole discretion as to whether we take on cases based on our perceived prospects of success. 

4. Gareth Group Law welcomes donations and offers free services wherever possible. Whilst Gareth Group Law is not able to charge fees for giving legal advice, we are allowed to claim costs for administration and expenses against the losing party as part of our agreement with our Clients. 

5. Editors and Media Contacts can contact us for further information by telephoning our switchboard telephone number (08432 894849) and selecting Option 7 for the Gareth Group Direction and Strategy department. 

 

Important Note

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We are not regulated by the Law Society or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. As such we cannot give legal advice and none of our activities amount to the same.

"Gareth Group Law" simply refers to our politically neutral interest in upholding fair access to and provision of services offered to people by the public sector and in lawfully campaigning for public bodies to adhere to legislation for the benefit of wider society. 

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