Lords defeat government again on judicial review reforms

The House of Lords has again inflicted defeat on a controversial bill which includes proposals intended to restrict the ability of objectors to use judicial review to hold up major developments.

Parliament: Lords vote to reject government proposals on judicial review
Parliament: Lords vote to reject government proposals on judicial review

Peers yesterday voted to back amendments to retain judicial discretion over whether parties intervening in judicial reviews should pay costs, what financial information applicants should disclose and whether to grant permission in certain cases.

The House of Lords had earlier rejected key proposals in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill in October.

Speaking yesterday, justice minister Lord Faulks told peers that the government "wants to restrict judicial review, not abolish it".

But he said that judicial review "is an area that has been misused, with claims brought with no real prospect of success, and with a view to delaying and adding expense to perfectly lawful acts that are simply disliked".

However, speaking during the debate, Labour peer Lord Beecham said: "The government, themselves a possible defendant in these cases, seek to restrict the exercise of judicial discretion in their own interests, and on the basis of the flimsiest evidence of the abuses that they affect to detect in the working of the system and the decisions of the courts."

Former environment secretary John Gummer, who sits as Lord Deben, was among a group of Tory peers to rebel against the government.

He said: "I have a long history of being keen on building, developing and getting this country ahead of its neighbours, and of being unhappy about the way that we seem to take such a long time to do things.

"I am therefore a natural voter for this. I am on the side of the government; I would like to be with them. However, this is not the way to do it."

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