By Ray Fleming

The best recent example of the importance of “judicial review” in Britain was Richard Branson's use of this legal procedure to stop the government's impending decision on the West Coast railway line franchise because he believed the Ministry of Transport had got its sums wrong. He was proved 100 per cent right.

Yesterday, addressing the Confederation of British Industry, David Cameron announced a bonfire of red tape and “bureaucratic rubbish” which, he said, are hindering Britain's economic recovery by delaying industry's growth projects. Among the measures to be cut back and made less easy to use will be judicial review. Justice Minister Chris Grayling acknowledged that “judicial review is an important way to hold authorities to account and ensure decisions are lawful” but added that there has been “a huge growth in its use, far beyond what was originally intended when it was introduced.” So the Ministry is undertaking a study of how to limit “costly and spurious review cases” -- but isn't that something for the judges to rule on?

Some ten thousand applications for judicial review are made annually but two-thirds of them concern immigration and asylum cases that have nothing to do with the planning applications that industry says are being delayed. This government's lamentable record of U-turns and poorly drafted legislation shows why judicial review is so important -- as Richard Branson will testify.


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