: Perhaps I may ask a question as a not so young barrister from a minority background.
: The Bar is full of Welsh speakers, Mr Llwyd.
Q40 Mr Llwyd
: It is indeed-perhaps the majority. Who knows? May I ask you about the public engagement exercise with regard to possible changes in judicial review? You said in your written statement
on the 19th of this month that judicial review is a critical means of holding the Executive to account. Many people believe, as I do, that it is the only means by which a citizen can challenge an administrative decision that has been made unreasonably. It is in many ways vital to a healthy democracy. Are the changes to the exercise of the function of judicial review going to be limited, for example, to planning or infrastructure cases, or is it across the board?
: It is across the board. Judicial review is a very important process. It is right and proper that people should be able to challenge the decisions of public bodies. It is also the case that judicial review is now increasingly used as a public relations exercise rather than a serious legal process, and I don’t think that is acceptable. Judicial review is also becoming a process that just goes on and on, so people keep on coming back. I think tighter rules should be built around when how the judicial review process can be used so that we do not deny people access to justice and the right to challenge but we make it much more difficult for the system to be used in a way that is not simply about challenging an incorrect decision. The early proposals we are bringing forward involve, first, a limit to the amount of time that people can wait before they start judicial review proceedings.
Q41 Mr Llwyd
: That already exists.
: We are proposing tighter time limits on that. Secondly, there will be a limit to oral appeals; thirdly, there will be an increased fee for accessing the judicial review system, but we also want to consult more widely about other changes we can make. On this, we think there is common agreement. There is frustration in the judiciary and among public bodies about how extensively it is used. When judicial review was introduced in the 1970s there were a few hundred cases a year; now there are thousands and thousands. I want to get judicial review back to what it should be, which is an opportunity for somebody with a genuine grievance where a decision has been wrongly taken by a public body to challenge it.
Q42 Mr Llwyd
: But in that scenario, for example, where there is a genuine challenge by an individual, would it not be unfortunate if you were to put up fees to a very high level and that individual found he or she could not afford to pay them?
: In all parts of our justice system-for example, the ability to access the small claims court-a fee is payable to make sure that the cases brought forward are not simply trivial. I don’t think it is inappropriate to do that with judicial review where potentially you are taking up significant amounts of judge and court time. I want judicial reviews to be taken in matters of genuine, legitimate interest. It is my view that often the judicial review process is used for PR purposes rather than genuine legal ones.