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Bid to curb judicial review numbers

Left-wing activists are holding back Britain, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has claimed as he announced plans to curb the number of judicial reviews brought against the Government.

Mr Grayling told the Daily Mail that the new proposals are designed to "stop the abuse" of the court appeals by "professional" campaigners seeking to delay government policies and generate media coverage.

Under the latest draft of plans, campaigners will be banned from launching the challenges, which can delay developments and policies by years, the newspaper reported. Local councils will also no longer be able to judicially review major infrastructure projects in their area.

Launching a consultation, Mr Grayling will also propose making people who bring spurious cases pay some of the other side's legal bill, the newspaper added.

"Britain cannot afford to allow a culture of left-wing-dominated, single-issue activism to hold back our country from investing in infrastructure and new sources of energy and from bringing down the cost of our welfare state, " he wrote in the Daily Mail. "We need to take decisions quicker and respond to issues more quickly in what is a true global race."

He added: "We will protect the parts of judicial review that are essential to justice, but stop the abuse."

Judicial reviews, in which a judge considers if a decision by a public body is lawful, often take years to come to court. Figures published earlier this year found 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. The number which were successful after being granted a full hearing fell from 187 to 144.

Among the failed judicial reviews brought against the Government this year were attempts by campaigners to overturn the controversial HS2 development and 'bedroom tax' policy.

In February 2011 the Government was defeated in the High Court over the way it scrapped part of England's Buildings Schools for the Future programme, which awarded funds to councils to revamp schools. Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to axe the project in six local authority areas was ruled unlawful as he failed to consult on it, and he was ordered to reconsider the move.

Mr Grayling made it clear he was prepared for a backlash against his plans, writing: "In proposing these changes, I will no doubt be accused of killing justice and destroying Magna Carta... I'm not sure that argument stacks up. But in proposing these changes, I know we will be doing the right thing for Britain."


From Belfast Telegraph