The number of judicial review applications lodged at the High Court fell from 15,600 to just 4,062 last year – caused mainly, but not entirely by the transfer of immigration and asylum cases to the Upper Tribunal.
According to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics published last week, the number of other civil JR applications fell by 13% last year, while the number of criminal JR applications hit an “all-time low” of 268 cases.
The MoJ said the “overall annual trend” in judicial review applications received by the Administrative Court had been “steadily increasing up to 2013 and has since dropped dramatically in 2014”.
The MoJ said immigration and asylum cases had been “driving the previous increase” in total numbers, pushing them to a peak of 15,594 last year.
Last year, however, the ministry said there had “only been 4,062 applications, almost a quarter of the number of applications lodged last year” and the lowest number since its series of reports began in 2000.
The House of Lords reluctantly accepted the government’s latest round of restrictions on judicial review, now contained in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling was strongly criticised by many peers, most memorably by Lord Pannick, who accused him of displaying “an astonishing lack of understanding about the role of judicial review – one of the cornerstones of the rule of law”.
According to the MoJ’s quarterly civil justice statistics report, civil JR applications, excluding immigration and asylum “rose steadily” from 1,727 in the year 2000 to 2,191 in 2013. Last year they fell back to 1,902 – a decrease of 13%. The MoJ gave no reason for the decrease.
Criminal JR applications, which had “remained fairly stable” since 2000, rising to a peak of 384 cases in 2012, dropped to an “all-time low” of 268 cases last year.
Meanwhile, the numbers of JRs granted permission to proceed increased by 14% last year. Cases granted an oral renewal remained the same, at 8%.
The proportion of cases which reached a final hearing rose from 10% to 16%. Just as in 2013, only 1% of all JR cases lodged during the year ended in the High Court finding in favour of the claimant.
A separate part of the MoJ report monitored applications for new interim applications preventing publication of private or confidential information (including ‘super-injunctions’),
This revealed that only one application for a fresh injunction was considered in the High Court during the whole of last year. This compares with a dozen in 2012, and seven the following year.