Ministry of Justice – Proposals for Reform

MOJ consultation answers due in by 24th January.

The consultation was launched on the 13th December taking into account the Christmas and new year break it leaves little time for consideration of such a very serious issue. It can be seen at.

View this link

They propose reducing the three months within which an application must be made to 30 days for procurement and six weeks for planning.

They have considered two proposals which would prohibit applications for oral hearings after leave for judicial review has been refused on reading the papers “to address the concern that the unfounded or misconceived cases are taking up too much time and causing too much uncertainty”:

  • The first would remove the right to an oral renewal in cases where there has already been a prior judicial process involving a hearing considering substantially the same issue as raised in the Judicial Review claim;
  • The second would remove the right to an oral renewal in cases which the Judge, on written submissions, has determined to be totally without merit.

The Welfare Reform Act has given very wide discretion to jobcentre officials to make decisions about the payment of benefits, the application of sanctions and the repayment of overpayments,  and the Local Government Finance Bill gives wide discretion to local authorities about the creation and administration of council tax benefits. It is to be expected that judicial review and creation of consistent procedures by Judges will be needed.

The most common failure among jobcentre and local authority officials is in failing to fully take into account the relevant facts in cases of vulnerable citizens who are impoverished by the benefit system.  Therefore unreasonable decisions are frequently made. These can normally be dealt with by the tribunals but with so much new benefit law coming into effect there will be a need to review those decisions and may be to take them to the Supreme Court. There should be no bar to that imposed by the MOJ.