Justice secretary Dominic Raab is considering introducing new measures to make it harder to challenge government decisions via judicial reviews, leaked documents seen by the Guardian show.
The plans could also see judges subject to new more stringent criteria in bringing forward cases, that could see courts banned from hearing cases in certain areas of government decision-making, the leaked Ministry of Justice (MoJ) papers reportedly show.
The new measures could also see claimants subject to higher costs if they are ruled not to have sufficient connection to the case, in a shift that could deter charities and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from bringing forward claims
The leaked MoJ documents says: “You [Raab] have indicated that you are minded to consult on further reforms to judicial review.”
Campaigners said the plans come as part of “an unprecedented assault” on the power of the courts that has seen the UK government put up various barriers to those launching legal challenges, in its efforts to “avoid accountability”.
Charlie Whelton, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said: “This leaked document suggests that the Government plans to make it even harder for people to challenge them and make themselves even less accountable to the public.”
The leak comes after the Conservative Party in its 2019 manifesto the vowed to reform the judicial review process with a view to “ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays”.
In April, the government also introduced new measures, under the Judicial Review and Courts Act, to make it harder to launch judicial reviews by blocking Upper Tribunal decisions from being subject to judicial reviews.
“The Government is determined to make it as difficult as possible to take them to court and hold them accountable for unlawful actions,” Whelton said.
Jo Maughm, director of the Good Law Project, said it is “worrying” that Dominic Raab is seeking to introduce new measures that “make it even harder for claimants to succeed”.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “We do not comment on leaks.”