From 2011 to
2016, the number of applications for leave for judicial review has increased drastically
from 103 to 228, yet the percentage of applications with leave granted dropped
from 50% to 7%.  Only about 10% of the
judicial review applications turns out to be successful in challenging the legality
of administrative decisions.  The long
waiting time for civil cases have caused economic losses to the society, such
as in the case of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge judicial review which has
delayed the construction and cost an extra few billions. 

 

I propose
that a specialist judicial review court be set up within the High Court to
handle all matters concerning judicial review, including granting leave at the
first stage and adjudicating hearings at the second stage.  The specialist court would comprise of judges
with expertise and experience in judicial review cases recruited from the High
Court or from other common law jurisdictions. 
Procedures for application for leave can also be simplified by requiring
oral hearing only if necessary.  Prioritization
of urgent cases, which is now discretionary, can be regularized. 

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With a pool of judges who have
expertise in this area of law sitting in the specialized court, it is expected
that cases can be handled more expeditiously with a higher predictability of case
outcomes.  Court procedures may also be
adapted to suit the specific needs of this court and enhance efficiency.  With simplified procedures and regularized prioritization,
the waiting time can be shortened and legal costs can be saved.  Although more judicial manpower and resources
will be required for the implementation and operation in the long run,