The government could face the prospect of a judicial review if it does not extend a consultation deadline on proposals to reform the judicial review process.
A six-week consultation closes on 29 April. London firm Bindmans has asked the Ministry of Justice to extend the deadline and says the consultation should run for at least 12 weeks.
The consultation was published alongside the final report of the Independent Review of Administrative Law and includes proposals that go beyond those the panel, led by Lord Faulks QC, recommended.
The consultation contains 19 questions on remedies, jurisdiction, ouster clauses and procedural reform.
In a letter to the ministry, Bindmans described the six-week deadline for responses as a ‘ludicrously short amount of time given the complexity of the issues, significance of the proposals and the lack of urgency for reform, let alone the intervening Easter and school holiday period’.
Bindmans wants the deadline to be extended to 10 June at the earliest. It said: ‘We can see no detriment to the Ministry of Justice in allowing a further six weeks (or more) for consultation responses – rather, it would be of great benefit to the ministry to draw on the responses of those who have been given sufficient time to meaningfully consider and address the proposals. No reason has been given for the short six-week response deadline, and we are not aware of any wider, public interest issue that gives rise to an urgent need for this review.’
‘Without a proper consultation,’ Bindmans added, ‘any implementation of the proposals may be fundamentally flawed and unlawful.’
A summary of government submissions to the Independent Review of Administrative Law was published after the Easter bank holiday weekend - despite lord chancellor Robert Buckland telling the commons on the day the consultation opened that the summary would be published ‘within the next 10 days or so’.
Lord Faulks and his team said in their report that they had sympathy with views expressed on the period of time they were given to conduct their review. Lord Faulks extended the deadline for the review’s call for evidence after receiving several requests.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: 'These proposals build on the wider year-long review of administrative law that concluded in January - focussing on very specific elements of it.'
The Gazette was told the consultation will be an 'iterative' process and updates will follow in due course.