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David Cameron To Crackdown On 'Time Wasting' Legal Challenges To Government Policies

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DAVID CAMERON
A crackdown on "time wasting" legal challenges to Government policies will be promised by David Cameron today as part of efforts to boost economic recovery. | PA

A crackdown on "time wasting" legal challenges to Government policies will be promised by David Cameron on Monday as part of efforts to boost economic recovery.

Opponents will be given less time to apply for judicial review, face higher fees and see the chances to appeal halved under proposals to be published by the Ministry of Justice.

The Prime Minister will tell business leaders that he is determined to "get a grip" on the process after the number of applications almost trebled in a decade.

And he will compare deficit-reduction efforts to the fight against Hitler, suggesting Whitehall rules should be "circumvented" as during wartime to speed up decision making.

Plans for the shake-up of the judicial review process are due to be announced by Mr Cameron in his speech to business leaders at the CBI annual conference.

Downing Street said they were aimed at making people "think twice about time-wasting" after application numbers rose from 160 in 1975 to 11,200 last year.

Officials denied undermining the ability to challenge the decisions of public authorities, insisting the aim was to end unnecessary delays and cut out weak cases submitted "even when the applicant knows they have no chance".

But they declined to give any details of the sorts of cases considered "spurious" or any detail of by how much fees could rise or how far the present three-month time limit for applications might be cut.

In his speech to the central London gathering, Mr Cameron is expected to complain that judicial review had become a "massive growth industry" that was delaying action and costing taxpayers too much money.

"We urgently needed to get a grip on this. So here's what we're going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases; charge more for reviews - so people think twice about time-wasting," he will say.

"And instead of giving hopeless cases up to four bites of the cherry to appeal a decision, we will halve that to two."

Mr Cameron will accept that Government is often still "far too slow at getting stuff done" - saying fears about the reaction of lobby groups and Commons select committee made officials "over cautious".

It had to be made clear to civil servants across Whitehall that "costs of delay are felt in businesses going bust, jobs being lost, livelihoods being destroyed".

"Consultations, impact assessments, audits, reviews, stakeholder management, securing professional buy-in, complying with EU procurement rules, assessing sector feedback - this is not how we became one of the most powerful, prosperous nations on earth. It's not how you get things done. So I am determined to change this," he told them.

That would take the "same spirit" shown in defeating Hitler, he will suggest.

"When this country was at war in the 40s, Whitehall underwent a revolution.

"Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at 'the overriding purpose' of beating Hitler.

"Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today - and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i' - and we need to throw everything we've got at winning in this global race."