Some good news for developers frustrated at planning delays caused by waiting for the Judicial Review (‘JR’) period to expire - amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules come into force on 1 July 2013 which change the time limit to apply for JR for planning cases to 6 weeks (from the current 3 months). But there may also be some drawbacks…

Whilst this change may lead to fewer JR claims being made, it might not all be good news as it could also result in more hastily submitted claims, and/or JR applications made with no attempt to work issues out beforehand.

In addition, changes to cost award limits came into effect a few weeks ago which may also have the unintended consequence of increasing claims. They apply to any JR case involving an environmental issue (and therefore many planning JRs). The changes are supposed to ensure that claimants aren’t put off by prohibitive costs, and place a cap on costs exposure for claimants of £5,000 for an individual and £10,000 for a business. The defendant’s exposure is limited to £35,000. This will make a JR application a much cheaper option in the future in many cases, and competitors, especially those in the retail sphere, may well be tempted to at least commence a claim, if only to delay a rival scheme.

However, one would hope that the overall effect of the reduced time limit is that uncertainty over delays to development will be reduced.