23/04/2013

Commercial Property e-Brief – Judicial Review in Planning Cases

The Ministry of Justice has announced that following its consultation on reducing the time in which to apply for Judicial Review (JR) presently “3 months and in any event promptly” to six weeks in planning cases, it intends to implement the change as quickly as possible although no definite date has been given for the introduction of the measures.

This will bring the challenge period on decisions made by local planning authorities in line with those made by the Secretary of State on appeal.  The latter referred to as ‘statutory challenges’ are already required to be brought within 6 weeks of the date of decision.

The 6 week limit will also apply to challenges brought against the decision of the Secretary of State on whether to call-in an application for his determination and to any decision taken by either a local planning authority or the Secretary of State in relation to Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

Other changes to be implemented include the removal of the right to an oral hearing where the application to bring judicial review has been found to be totally without merit.  The Pre-action protocol requirements requiring certain things to be done, mainly alerting the other side of your intentions, prior to actually seeking permission to judicially review will also be removed given that there will be much less time in which to do this.

Overall, we welcome reform to JR time limits which provides certainty and the demise of the “and promptly within any event” which was always open to interpretation.  This is welcome news for developers who will have any period of uncertainty reduced from 3 months to 6 weeks before development can be undertaken without the cloud of JR hanging over it.

However, any claim against another development must be brought within 6 weeks so quick commercial decisions will have to be taken on whether there is a desire to bring a JR so more emphasis on scrutiny of rival development’s planning applications at an earlier stage will be required.

If you would like to discuss the intended change in more detail, please contact Mark Jones on 0113 227 0297 or at mark.jones@gordonsllp.com.