25 April 2013
The government is set to to weaken access to justice for Britons negatively affected by poor policymaking and public sector decisions.
Judicial reviews are used by the public to challenge the decisions of public sector bodies if they are deemed to be unlawful. It is one way to keep services open when they are threatened by the cuts and when the loss of those services would be seriously detrimental to the area. In this way, access to judicial review also saves jobs.
Having launched a consultation into reforming judicial review in December 2012, the government has now published its response, stating that three main proposals will be pursued. We believe these threaten to weaken access to justice of members of the public who are impacted by unlawful policymaking.
The time limit for bringing a claim will be reduced from three months to six weeks if the claim refers to a planning decision, and to just 30 days if it is about a procurement decision.
Additionally, a new fee will be introduced for oral renewal hearings, which come into effect to reconsider a claim which has failed on paper. The right to an oral renewal will also be removed for those whose claim has been deemed as having no merit.
Politicians have almost solely focused on the planning permission element of this reform but the Institute of Employment Rights is more interested in the decision to reduce the time limit for procurement claims. The details of the reform are not yet clear, but we believe this move could be part of the Conservative Party’s ‘legacy’ when they are voted out of government and a way to make it difficult for a future government to unpick the damage austerity has done.
Further and more in-depth critique of the proposals will be published on the IER blog in the coming weeks.