Proposal is designed to speed up judicial review process

Lady Justice

Source: manu_h

The government has unveiled plans to set up a new planning court to avoid costly delays to construction projects from judicial reviews.

Legal disputes over major developments will be fast-tracked for consideration by the new planning court, which will be established by this summer.

The move will see an estimated 400 planning cases a year resolved more quickly by being fast-tracked for hearings with specialist judges, rather than being heard in the Administrative Court.

The package of reforms, unveiled by the Ministry of Justice today, also includes changes to make sure claimants face financial risk, ending the current situation where objectors can cause costly delays with no cost or risk for themselves.

There were 12,600 applications for judicial review in 2012, 200 of which were on planning issues, which took an average of 370 days to be resolved.

Some of the measures will become part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which has been introduced to Parliament today.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Judicial Review must continue its role as a crucial check on the powers that be – but we cannot allow meritless cases to be a brake on economic growth.

“That would be bad for the economy, the taxpayer and the job-seeker, and bad for confidence in justice.

“These changes will bring balance to the Judicial Review system, so justice is done but unmerited, costly and time-wasting applications no longer stifle progress.”

The plans also include:

  • Speeding up appeals in important cases by making it possible more often for them to be considered by the Supreme Court without first going to the Court of Appeal. This change means cases could be resolved months, and in some cases more than a year, quicker.
  • Changing the rules around who has to pay the legal bills for cases – so all parties have an equal interest in ensuring unnecessary costs are not racked up.
  • Stopping JRs which are based on technical flaws in the original decision-making process, when it is highly likely that the end result would have remained the same.
  • Targeting legal aid funding at JR cases which have merit, so the legal aid system commands public confidence and credibility.