Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

MPs fight back as judicial cases block House of Commons

John Major: I will seek judicial review if Parliament is bypassed

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A freedom of information request has revealed leading QC Jo Maugham’s Good Law Project has brought 27 cases since October 2017 at a cost to taxpayers of around £1.8million. Mr Maugham came to prominence in 2016 when he represented Gina Miller in cases challenging the Brexit process. His law firm has more recently taken cases against the Government over issues such as procurement for Covid-19, including a claim that £700million of contracts for personal protective equipment were illegally awarded.

Mr Maugham, director of Good Law Project, claimed: “The cost of defending the judicial reviews we have brought is but a drop in the vast ocean of sleaze and waste that our judicial reviews have uncovered.

“No wonder they fear the power of judicial review.”

However, Mr Opperman, who is now a pensions minister, said there had been an expansion in the use of judicial reviews since 2015.

He said: “This is evident in so many ways from the vast costs, both to the applicant and the government of the day, to the way it is slowing down the machinery of government.

“It clearly needs reform and the Prime Minister, and Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor, are right to have begun to tackle this. This reform was clearly set out in the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto. It has begun with an independent review and then further consultation, which is ongoing.”

He added: “It is key that laws are made in Parliament and the electorate know that. If there is a perception, whether real or imagined, that there is too much judge-made law then there is a problem with democratic accountability and ensuring that the courts and judiciary continue to be seen as independent.

“It is also vital this reform ensures that the process is quick and affordable both for the applicant, and the taxpayer, who is funding both the Government’s defence and many of the applications.

“But we also need to ensure that the system is not abused by vexatious applications.”

The Government is being pushed to deliver on a manifesto promise to curtail judicial reviews and limit legal challenges.

The Common Sense group of Tory MPs, chaired by ex-minister Sir John Hayes, has been pushing for reform and held meetings on the subject with Attorney General Suella Braverman last year.

Ms Braverman is also in favour of reform and recently Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke to the Sunday Express about the frustration of legal challenges being used to prevent foreign criminals from being deported.

She said: “It should be a stain on the consciences of these people making these representations on behalf of these heinous criminals.

“They are part of the broken system.”

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