The government has dropped its plans to restrict campaigners from challenging planning decisions through the courts.
The Minister of Justice (MoJ) recently consulted on a proposal to limit those eligible to take out a judicial review. But this was not included in the government’s response to the consultation, published yesterday (6/2/14).
To seek a judicial review currently, you must show you have “sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates”. The MoJ thought this was being interpreted too loosely and allowed people to “hinder the process of proper decision-making”. It wanted to introduce a test for ‘standing’ that would limit entitlement to bring a judicial review to those with a direct interest in the case. Environmental campaigners and charities argued that it would have prevented them from bringing claims on behalf of individuals.
Other proposals have also been dropped. These include plans to prevent local authorities challenging decisions on major infrastructure decisions, changes to legal aid in planning cases and a proposal to move planning cases to the Upper Tribunal. They will now go to a specialist planning court within the High Court, supervised by a specialist judge.
The MoJ is, however, continuing with its plans to pay legal aid providers only for work carried out on an application for judicial review if permission is actually granted. It says this will “ensure that weak cases no longer receive taxpayer funding”. This could, however, make it more difficult for small campaigning organisations to take up challenges.