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Backing of MPs secured by Grayling for judicial review reforms

20th Jan 2015

Controversial reforms to the judicial review has been passed by the government through the House of Commons.

After two late concessions, Chris Grayling, lord chancellor and justice secretary, has secured MPs’ votes in favour of the changes proposed to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

It came after Grayling made late offers allowing judges to have the final decision on granting judicial review or otherwise, and for judicial committees to decide the financial levels at which individuals who fund cases will have to identify.

However, some lawyers on the government benches further questioned Grayling over the concession to give judges the authority to grant judicial review where there is ‘an exceptional public interest’. Edward Garnier, former solicitor general, described the clause as ‘moderately nonsensical’, deciding not to vote along with former attorney general, Dominic Grieve.

Now the bill will pass back to the House of Lords, which has already voted against the plans twice before. It is now expected that peers will approve the legislation, unless they choose to ‘defy constitutional convention’.

The government is seeking to change the current judicial review rules in order to make third-party interveners liable for costs, preventing judges from granting permission for judicial review even if the public authority has acted unlawfully, if the outcome would have been the same should they have acted in the same way.

The lord chancellor told MPs that the new concessions should both address concerns expressed by peers, and retain the original aim of the proposals, in the debate. Grayling stated that the reforms will not ‘undermine the core purpose of judicial review’, but will mean public bodies are protected against cases brought on technicality.

Despite welcoming the concessions, Labour continued to oppose the legislation as a whole, with shadow justice ministers, Andy Slaughter, stating that the concessions were the ‘bare minimum’, and would lead to ‘satellite litigation with further delays and costs’.