4 March 2014

Legal disputes over major developments will be fast-tracked for consideration by a new Planning Court, which will be established by this summer to support the Government’s long-term plan for economic recovery.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that key building projects that generate thousands of jobs in communities across the UK will benefit from changes to tackle costly and unnecessary legal delays.

The move will see an estimated 400 planning cases a year resolved more quickly by being fast-tracked for hearings with specialist judges, instead of “clogging the main Administrative Court”, he said.

This will support the growing economy by reducing unnecessary and costly legal delays, which developers have previously blamed for the collapse of potential major building schemes.

“Judicial Review must continue its role as a crucial check on the powers that be, but we cannot allow meritless cases to be a brake on economic growth,” Mr Grayling said. “That would be bad for the economy, the taxpayer and the job seeker, and bad for confidence in justice.”

He also announced an intention to change the rules around who has to pay the legal bills for cases, so all parties have an equal interest in ensuring unnecessary costs are not racked up.

Mr Grayling also plans to limit the use of Protective Costs Orders (PCOs) to exceptional cases with a clear public interest. At present PCOs can be used by claimants to make the defendant authority bear the legal costs regardless of the outcome of the case.