The Court of Appeal has reaffirmed the strict time limits associated with judicial review applications.

In R [Hardy] -v- Pembrokeshire County Council and Others 2006 EWCA 240 the Appeal Court upheld the judgment of Mr Justice Sullivan, who had refused to allow permission to issue judicial review proceedings on the basis that this had not been made “promptly” and that there had been undue delay in the issue of the proceedings.
Although the Court of Appeal acknowledged the Courts inherent discretion to allow judicial review actions to proceed where there had been delay, it held that the grant of permission to appeal in this case would cause significant prejudice to third parties and be detrimental to good administration.

The Court noted that since planning permission had been granted, the applicant had taken significant steps to implement the planning permission and had issued contracts worth millions of pounds.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the substantive merits of the claim failed to justify permission to proceed given the undue delay and prejudice to those third party interests.

Further, the public interest arguments did not outweigh these considerations.

This case acts as a timely reminder to third parties that if they become aware of circumstances that could lead to a potential judicial challenge, they should take immediate steps to protect their position failing which their substantive claim, however well founded, could fall at the first hurdle.