Eversheds publish their briefing on the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (expected to come into force April 2015), which introduces several key changes to the way in which the UK's judicial review process will function. The legislation is aimed at addressing concerns that too many unmeritous claims being are being pursued.

The briefing is excellently drafted, and summarises how these key changes will make it more difficult for applicants to pursue successful claims, and affect the public's ability to hold government to account. A brief summary is below, and I've included my own thoughts below that - disclaimer: I am not a professional lawyer!

  • Reduced judicial discretion
    Judges' discretion to grant an interim order or leave for a claim to proceed to a substantive hearing will be limited if it is decided that the outcome of the claim would not have been "substantially different" if the "conduct complained of had not occurred".
  • Funds for pursuing cases
    In order to make a claim, applicants must now be able to provide the court with information about the funds available to pursue the claim, and the source of that support.
  • Interveners and costs
    An organisation that intervenes as a third party in proceedings (such as an NGO or charity) may now be required to pay the costs parties incur as a result of involvement in the proceedings.
  • Costs capping (Protective Cost Orders)
    PCOs are now only available if permission is granted to the court.

This change in procedure may make pursuing a weak claim unattractive, benefiting the justice system as a whole, and helping to unclog the courts. However, it seems likely that it might act to impede a private individual's ability to access justice when balanced with the cost of justice.

This is similar news to the recent press surrounding the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings (Amendment) Order 2015, which has taken harsh criticism, with opponents claiming that it impedes access to justice by dramatically increasing the cost of bringing a claim to court. All in all, it's looking like 2015 might not be the best year to go to court. . .

Thoughts? Answers on a postcard - tweet me at @JamesDLamont