Report (3rd Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Scott of Foscote Lord Scott of Foscote Crossbench 4:15 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, I rise simply to say a word about the possible effect of litigation on the timetable proposed for litigation. The possibility of delay was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Pannick, who has great experience in this field. It is my experience that the prospect of obtaining a favourable end result to the litigation is not the only reason why people commence litigation. Both as a barrister and as a judge, I remember cases in which litigation was commenced not with any realistic prospect of success at the end but simply for the purpose of achieving delay. Where judicial review is concerned, the permission of a judge is required. So the applicant goes in front of the judge and sets out his case, asking for permission to start judicial review. Sometimes a judge will grant him permission when he ought not to have done. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, proposed the likelihood that permission would be refused in the cases of judicial review as a result of this amendment, and I do not dispute that-but there might be a judge who would grant it. If permission is refused, the applicant can then renew his application for permission in front of the court of appeal and try again. Throughout this process, which will take a little time, whatever expedition might be granted by the courts, the pending litigation will deter the Boundary Commission from getting on with its job.

I support the amendment-or at least I think I do; I am listening carefully to the arguments for and against-but I would not wish this House to proceed on the footing that a degree of delay might not be occasioned by litigation of the sort that I have described, which may be vexatious litigation.