PM to Crackdown on Legal Challenges Against Government Schemes

In his speech to the CBI (Confederation of British Industries) Prime Minister Cameron announced his intention to to cut the number of legal challenges against government policies, by assigning tighter time limits and higher charges. According to him this “bureaucratic nonsense” was preventing the UK from growth and prosperity. that`s why he declared he will put a stop to it.

The measures to be taken include rise in the cost and short time periods for judicial reviews to be submitted and in addition the number of appeals allowed against a decision will be halved from four to two.

Currently individuals or firms, believing the decision made by the authorities was wrong have the right to demand a judicial review. The Prime Minister sees there judicial reviews as ” an obstacle to economic growth “. A typical example of such a case is the Virgin’s recent legal challenge of First Group’s acquisition of the West Coast Mainline’s franchise.

Mr Cameron cited a Downing Street resource, according to which more than 11, 000 judicial review applications were made in 2011, compared to 160 in 1975.

We urgently need to get a grip on this,’ Cameron said

Together with slashing the ability to bring legal challenges against government policies, Cameron is determined to end the equality impact assessments, ensuring the polices do not discriminate anyone on a gender, race or religious ground.

In his speech he made a good analogy with the WW II. he compared the curent economic situation to the fight with the Nazis in the 40s;

“When this country was at war in the ’40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution,” said Cameron. “Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at ‘the overriding purpose’ of beating Hitler.

“Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today – and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”

Although Cameron is very excited about his plans, not everybody shares the same mood about it.

Dan McLean, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has hit back, saying: “The system is already stacked against local people trying to protect the areas they love. The only way for local people to oppose a bad development that has already been granted planning permission is through judicial review.”

“This is already very expensive and time-consuming. Putting this option further out of reach for many people will only make it even harder for local people to take a democratic role in planning decisions where they live.”

Virgin Trains To Dispute Government`s Decision in Court

In the last 15 years Virgin Trains was the company awarded the West Coast Main Line contract. However this year Richard Branson-owned company lost the contract from one of its main competitors- FirstGroup. The  government`s decision will be probably legally disputed as Virgin Train announced they are going to oppose the government`s decision to accept the competitor`s bid. The company applied for the judicial review of the decision and logged papers at the High Court in London.

Richard Branson, Virgin Trains owner, said: “In the bid process the one thing we do know is our bid was voted far more deliverable than FirstGroup’s.”All we are saying is that these same civil servants got their maths wrong with National Express and GNER, we’re absolutely convinced they’ve got their maths wrong with FirstGroup.”Rather than give up the fight as we did on the East Coast Main Line, we’re going to fight, and if at the end we’re proven wrong we’ll bow out gracefully.”

Justine Greening, Transport Secretary was surprised and highly disappointed by Virgin`s actions. She said: ”We will defend the robustness of the process. It’s a process that Virgin themselves have been involved in for the last 15 months and have raised no concerns about until the point it became clear that they had lost this bid.”We have a process that all the parties bought in to, one of them that hasn’t won out on the bid has chosen to challenge it.”

It is not clear whether Virgin`s legal action will cause any delay in the signing of the contract, however Greeting said that the legal contract will be signed as soon as possible .

Meanwhile FirstGroup responded: “We have every confidence in the DfT’s [Department for Transport's] process which is rigorous, detailed and fair and in which bids are thoroughly tested.”There has been no complaint about the process, which was carefully described in advance, until Virgin Rail Group had lost commercially.”