The lord chancellor has refused to extend the deadline for responses to the government’s controversial consultation on reforming judicial review despite receiving multiple requests, the Gazette has learned.
Access Social Care, which provides free legal advice to people with social care needs, wrote to Robert Buckland last week, telling him that the government’s ‘rushed’ consultation carried the risk of serious injustices for older and disabled people with social care needs.
Responding to Access Social Care today, Buckland said: ‘After consideration, I am unable to offer an extension to the public consultation period. Prior to the 2019 general election, a commitment to reform judicial review was made in the Conservative manifesto. The government wants to make progress in this area and to fulfil its commitment. Whilst I acknowledge that the consultation period is shorter than in some other cases, the government believes that there has been sufficient opportunity for those interested in the subject to put forward opinions and suggestions as part of the Independent Review of Administrative Law, as well as during the present consultation.’
He added: 'The government believes that engaging in public consultation alongside a programme of certain direct stakeholder engagement is a proportionate approach and will allow us to further refine and develop our policy thinking before we publish the formal government response to the consultation.'
Catriona Filmer, ASC's head of legal, told the Gazette: 'We are extremely disappointed in the response today. A commitment is given by the government in the consultation to ensure the proposals made do not lead to unintended consequences. However, in giving such a short timescale to respond and with such scant information provided on some of the proposals, the government is likely to achieve the very thing it says it wishes to avoid.'
Richard Mason, deputy director for the ministry's constitutional policy division, issued a similar response to high-profile public law specialist firm Bindmans, which had asked for the deadline to be extended to 10 June at the earliest. The Law Society and Bar Council, in a separate letter coordinated by human rights group Liberty, had also requested an extension.
The consultation closes tomorrow.