The First Thing We Do…

19 Nov

Mr Cameron remarked recently to the CBI (a business pressure group) that the country needs a wartime spirit of ‘circumventing the rules’ in order to get things done – and he singled out the phenomenon of Judicial Review in particular. Apparently applications for Judicial Review – for a Judge to check the lawfulness of a given Government decision – are really annoying him and holding up the Recovery. The Ministry of Justice has the -er- details. Listen to our new Lord Chancellor in the one-minute video and see how ‘suitably qualified’ for his post you think him – referring to Judicial Review as ‘JR’ (its practitioner nickname) was a nice touch, the writer will admit. Since the Lord Chancellor is the Minister statutorily responsible for upholding the Rule of Law, controversy could be expected…

… and duly occurred. The Human Rights Blog mocked with a Churchill picture and The Guardian records the generally outraged reaction of lawyers – and the stats to back up the point, too. Prof Jeffrey Jowell contributes an appalled piece.

The writer is curious: what was Mr Cameron up to ? The stats show that the explosion in JR is mostly in Immigration cases: is that his real point ? It is certainly true that the stats ignore the impact of tactical applications and the threats of applications  – and the low success rate might suggest he has a point about ‘too many’ – one says similar about the ECHR. But why this, why now ? A link to the ECHR and Prisoner Votes, perhaps ? Sniffing the wind to see what the public make of some Judge-bashing in case the Commons throw out any compromise ? Watch this space …

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