Consultations currently open for comment include proposals to revise costs protection in environmental judicial review challenges, a proposed service charter for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, proposed new powers for the Public Services Ombudsman Wales, and recommendations on reform to access to justice in Northern Ireland.
The Ministry of Justice is seeking views on how to improve the rules relating to costs protection in certain environmental challenges, governed by Section VII of Part 45 of the Civil Procedure Rules (the CPR), related parts of the CPR and associated Practice Directions (the Environmental Costs Protection Regime). The consultation sets out proposals to amend the Environmental Costs Protection Regime within the framework of relevant EU law requirements.
These proposed amendments follow other statutory developments concerning costs protection in judicial review generally, including provision for a new type of order – a costs capping order – which will replace protective costs orders in England and Wales and which will limit or remove the liability of one party to pay another’s costs in appropriate judicial review cases. The Government’s intention is that the new costs capping order regime will not apply to relevant environmental judicial review cases and that costs protection in these cases in England and Wales will be governed by the costs rules in Section VII of Part 45 of the CPR
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Draft Service Charter – deadline 13 January 2016
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is consulting on a draft service charter for users of the scheme. The charter is intended to explain what people can expect from the PHSO, including during initial contact, the investigation process, and following an investigation. It also aims to set out what the PHSO expects from users of its service.
Also available is a summary of the initial responses received so far in engagement work carried out for the PHSO by the Office for Public Management in the period December 2014 to March 2015. That research focussed on:
- Understanding initial reactions and views on the role of the PHSO
- Mapping the PHSO complaints journey and identifying what works well and not so well at each stage
- Developing ideas for the content and format of the future service charter
Draft Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill – deadline 18 January 2016
The Finance Committee of the Welsh Assembly is calling for evidence on the draft Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill. This follows on from an inquiry undertaken by the Finance Committee to consider extending the powers of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, including powers to conduct an investigation o the ombudsman’s own initiative. (Full details of the Committee’s initial inquiry are available on the Committee’s webpage.)
In May 2015, the Committee published its report on Consideration of Powers: Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and recommended that a Bill should be introduced into the Assembly. The Committee agreed to consult on a new draft Bill which would re-enact much of the existing Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005 but with new provisions recommended by the Committee in its report.
Report of the Access to Justice Review, Part Two – deadline 9 February 2016
The Northern Ireland Justice Department is consulting on recommendations for reforms made in an independent report, ‘Strategy for Access to Justice’. The independent report was produced by Colin Stutt, who was commissioned last year by the Minister of Justice in a follow-up to the report from the first Access to Justice Review that was published in 2011. It led to a comprehensive programme of work with three strategic objectives for reform: improving access to justice; bringing legal aid within budget; and improving governance.
The current objective is to build on the reforms that have already been introduced and identify further improvements to the system. The report makes 150 wide-ranging recommendations aimed at reducing costs and improving the experience of those who come into contact with the justice system.