This follows announcements from Justice Minister Chris Grayling that reforms to the judicial review process would include reduced time limits for bringing claims and an increase in fees for seeking hearings in person.
Under the amended provisions applications to judicially review planning decisions will have a new time limit of six weeks rather than the current three months. Further changes include the increased court fee from £60 to £215 for seeking an oral hearing after the initial judicial review application has been turned down, as well as the removal of the right to seek an oral hearing where the claim is judged to be "totally without merit".
The transitional provisions stipulate that the reduced time limit for judicial review applications will be effective in respect of applications where the "grounds to make the claim" arise after 1 July 2013. If "grounds" is a reference to the grant of planning permission this indicates that planning decisions made prior to 1 July 2013 will remain subject to the three month time limit and any planning decisions granted after the introduction of the rules on 1 July 2013 will be subject to the new six week time limit.
The introduction of the rules follows a consultation held by the Ministry of Justice which met with opposition from respondents in April. However, with the number of applications for judicial review rising from 6,692 in 2007 to 11,359 in 2011, and only 144 of those being ultimately successful, the measures are designed to slow the increase in applications for judicial review and deal with "unnecessary delays in the system" as well as "weak or ill-conceived cases".
Grayling has stated that "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".