Parliament in fresh wrangle over judicial review changes

A bill seeking to speed up the judicial review process has been sent back to the House of Lords after MPs rejected a series of amendments to it.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, published in February, includes proposals aiming to restrict the ability of objectors to use judicial review to hold up major developments.

Having passed through the Commons, the bill moved into the House of Lords, where a number of amendments were backed.

This included a provision to grant judges the power to decide whether those who apply to the court to intervene in a judicial review case should pay their own costs.

The move blocked the government's plans to make such a payment an automatic presumption.

However, on Monday the House of Commons voted to reject the changes put forward by the House of Lords.

Instead, it backed a further amendment put forward by justice secretary Chris Grayling, which set out four conditions that would allow the court to order the intervener to pay any costs that it considered had been incurred as a result of the intervener’s involvement.

The conditions include if the intervener has acted, in substance, as the sole or principal applicant, defendant, appellant or respondent, and if the intervener’s evidence and representations have not been of significant assistance to the court.

During a debate in the House of Commons, Grayling said: "It will preserve the court’s role in deciding whether costs were caused by the intervener and incurred by the party reasonably."

But Andy Slaughter, a Labour MP for Hammersmith, warned that the impact of the clauses would be felt by people of "limited means who look for support in their judicial reviews".

He said: "That could be family members … or individuals in a community, perhaps on a planning case, but it could also be charities and other not-for profit organisations."

However, the amendment was backed by MPs, with 314 votes in support versus 198 against. The bill will now return to the House of Lords for further consideration.

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