The number of judicial reviews involving government departments has almost doubled since 2010, the government has revealed.
Solicitor general Robert Buckland (pictured) confirmed in a written answer in the House of Commons that the Treasury Solicitor acted in 16,449 judicial review cases in 2013.
That was a 60% rise on the number in 2012 and a 92% increase compared with 2010, during which the Treasury Solicitor acted in 8,566 cases.
The Treasury Solicitor represents most government departments in litigation. Buckland was not able to say how many reviews were upheld in whole or in part.
The figures were revealed in the same week the House of Lords thwarted the government's bid to restrict judicial review.
In particular, peers voted down Ministry of Justice attempts to create a presumption that those who apply to the court to intervene in a judicial review case should have to pay their own costs.
Justice minister Lord Faulks said interveners can make arguments that ‘go beyond what is necessary’ and the department wanted to deter ‘inappropriate interventions’ to reduce costs for all parties and assist the court. He told parliament that use of judicial review had increased to ‘around 15,600’ cases in 2013.
Faulks added: ‘We accept that many judicial reviews will be well founded and brought in good faith, and that much of the growth has been driven by the number of immigration and asylum cases, but it remains a simple fact that a well-timed judicial review can delay the implementation of crucial policies or projects for months or even years.'
Lord Pannick, who successfully argued for an amendment, said courts find interventions helpful and judges have control over whether they are allowed.
The three amendments supported by the Lords are likely to be sent back to the House of Commons for further debate.
The MoJ has said it is ‘disappointed’ with the votes and is considering its response. The department reiterated that the reforms – part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – will ensure judicial review is ‘not abused’ by people to cause delays or to generate publicity for a cause.
Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter, who tabled the original Commons question on judicial reviews, said the figures showed a 'low quality, arbitrary and controversial nature of decision-making and a worrying disregard for the rule of law'.
'What is equally extraordinary is the fact that the Government has no record of how many JRs it loses. Rather than use this evidence to improve the way it operates, under Chris Grayling they seek to deal with the problem by limiting the ability of citizens to bring JR actions in their criminal justice and courts bill.'