Legal reforms lack evidence, says committee

Government’s proposed reforms to the judicial review process lack evidence and would limit access to justice, according to a report published today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

By Suzannah.Brecknell

30 Apr 2014

The government wants to constrain the use of judicial review, arguing that it can conflict with the democratic mandate of elected governments and that its use has risen in recent years.
However, the committee notes that most of the rise in judicial reviews is due to a rise in immigration cases,which are now dealt with in a separate system.

Committee chair, Hywel Francis, said: “The government could go some way towards achieving its aims of reducing cost and delay by reforms which would not risk compromising effective access to justice – unlike those it has proposed.” 

The committee criticises most of the proposed reforms, for example saying that plans to limit access to legal aid during the early stages of a review are not supported by evidence and constitute “a potentially serious interference with access to justice.”

A Ministry of Justice spokes-person said the reforms “will bring balance to the judicial review system so justice is done, but unmerited, costly and time-wasting applications no longer stifle progress.”

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