The Government misjudges the problems of judicial reviews

5946829399_e633991652_oWe recently wrote about the Government’s plans to shake up the judicial review process by making it “leaner and faster”.  However, it would seem that yet again the Government has prescribed a solution that doesn’t fit the problem.

The recently published 2020 Vision: An Agenda for Transformationhighlights that ‘criminal’ and ‘other’ applications for judicial reviews has barely risen since 1997 (see graph). However, judging from the evidence presented in the same essay, what has risen is the number of reviews based on immigration. Charlie Elphicke MP notes that “It’s not hard to see why there has been increasing concern in the past decade. In 1997, the number of applications for judicial review was 3,848. By 2011 the number had risen to 11,200.

A rise of 348 per cent in applications on immigration issues over a 14 year period has clearly put a strain on the Home Office meaning that there is a huge backlog of asylum cases.  It is arguable, however, that increasing the fee payable from £60 to £215 and cutting the three month time limit on applying for a review, as argued by the Government, will do little to deter a further surge in immigration based reviews.

Based on this evidence the solution to the judicial review problems should be focused upon immigration and Charlie Elphicke’s own proposals begin to make some headway in tackling the issues; only a decision so unreasonable that no sensible decision maker could have made it should be subject to review; and legal aid should only be available for cases that involve a novel point of law of significant public importance.

It is absolutely right for there to be proper oversight of the law and it is wholly wrong for the Government to try, in any way, to limit oversight across the board. The Government is right, there is indeed a problem, however it is far narrower than has been suggested. The solution has not been grounded in the evidence of the problem and the process should about speed and efficiency not making it harder to make a claim.

legatum institute judicial reviews

Graph: 2020 Vision: An Agenda for Transformation by The Legatum Institute