Justice Secretary moves to curb immigrant use of judicial reviews

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced measures aimed at fighting what Ministry of Justice described as a culture of using meritless judicial review applications to delay immigration decisions.

Ministry of Justice said the changes will tackle the soaring number of judicial review applications being made in England and Wales.

New figures show the number of applications rose from 6,692 in 2007 to 11,359 in 2011 – but just one in six were granted permission to proceed beyond the earliest stages and the number which were ultimately successful fell from 187 to 144.

Immigration cases make up the vast majority of the total. There were 8,734 judicial review applications made in 2011 as an attempt to overturn an immigration decision – but only 607 were considered suitable for a hearing and only 31 were ultimately successful.

Despite the low success rate, cases which were refused at the first stage in 2011 still took an average of 83 days to be dealt with, while cases which went through to a hearing took an average of 275 days.

Ministry of Justice said the newly announced changes have been designed to drive out meritless applications to speed up the court system for people with genuine cases.

The measures include introducing a £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their initial written judicial review application has been turned down.

People will banned from seeking a hearing in person if their initial written application has been ruled as totally without merit.

The time limit for applying for a judicial review of a planning decision will be reduced from three months to six weeks.

The time limit for applying for a judicial review of a procurement decision will also be reduced from three months to four weeks.

“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,” Mr Grayling said.

Court rules will now be put in place to implement the changes, which are expected to take effect this summer.

The changes complement separate proposals being considered which would also see the fee for a Judicial Review application increase from £60 to £235.

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