The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has welcomed David Cameron’s announcement that he plans to rein in judicial reviews in a bid to promote growth in the economy - but some lawyers have criticised the proposals.
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry conference in London, the PM criticised the legal system - in particular increasing numbers of judicial reviews - for holding up major infrastructure projects. He said the government was being too slow at delivering economic growth, and vowed to speed up the process by getting rid of “bureaucratic rubbish”.
“We urgently need to get a grip on this”, Cameron said of the judicial review system, “so here’s what we’re going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases; charge more for reviews - so people think twice about time-wasting.”
Cameron said he wanted to cut opportunities to appeal in half, from four to two, but the details of proposed cost increases or the shorter application period are as yet unclear.
Matthew Farrow, director of policy at the ESA (left), said: “The Prime Minister is right to draw attention to the huge rise in judicial reviews especially in relation to planning decisions. Both communities and investors want a planning system that can resolve conflicting views about where to site needed infrastructure in a timely and relatively predictable fashion. A system where judicial reviews are so prevalent does neither of these things.”
Government figures show 160 applications for judical review were brought in 1975, compared to more than 11,000 last year.
However, lawyers have hit out against Cameron’s judicial review reform proposals, saying that the plans will not improve the situation for business that want to build infrastructure, and that the proportion of environmental cases brought is small.
Adam Chapman, a partner at the law firm Kingsley Napley, was reported in the Guardian as saying: “The Prime Minister is missing the point. It is a myth that judicial review is stopping the government from proceeding with policies to help boost the economy. Although there has been significant growth in the number of judicial review cases brought, the increase has been in cases about immigration and asylum – it’s nothing to do with stopping the government from taking steps to assist business. In non-immigration and asylum cases, the number of cases has actually gone down since 2006.”
For more on criticisms of the proposals, see MRW.co.uk