Reform of Civil Procedure: Essays on 'Access to Justice'

Reform of Civil Procedure: Essays on 'Access to Justice'

Reform of Civil Procedure: Essays on 'Access to Justice'

Reform of Civil Procedure: Essays on 'Access to Justice'


This collection of essays by leading commentators on civil justice is an attempt to assess the present state of civil procedure in the UK and the possible impact of proposals recently put forward by Lord Woolf. In addition, the essays deal with the fundamental problems that are encountered today in the administration of civil justice everywhere. The contributors are distinguished practitioners and academics who have made extensive contributions to the subject in the past.


I am now well past the half-way stage of the Inquiry into Access to Justice I am conducting at the request of the Lord Chancellor. An Interim Report was published in July 1995 and it is hoped that during the summer of 1996, the Final Report and the new unified Rules of Procedure will be published. In the intervening period the process of consultation is continuing and a programme for implementing the recommendations which are contained in the Interim Report has started.

During the first stage of the Inquiry I was astonished by the breadth and degree of interest it attracted. This was reflected by the extent of the coverage which the media gave to the Inquiry, the many representations which the Inquiry received and the numbers attending the various public 'road shows' which were held in conjunction with it. The central feature of both the Bar's and the Law Society's 1995 conferences was the Interim Report's recommendations. This demonstrated the importance which the legal profession attached to the Interim Report. The other striking feature of the Inquiry has been the degree of unanimity among the contributors. There has been broad agreement with the conclusions of the Interim Report that there is need for fundamental reform to the civil justice system. There is also agreement that reform should follow the lines recommended in the Report. This is not entirely surprising as the Interim Report had built on the recommendations of both sides of the profession contained in the Heilbron/Hodge report which in its turn had been generally welcomed. The welcome was not only by the profession. It also came from users of the system (including consumers) and the judiciary.

This favourable response to the Interim Report could have lulled the Inquiry into a sense of complacency as to the extent of the work which remained for the second stage of the Inquiry. If this was a danger, it will be removed by the publication of this book. Its two editors, Mr Zuckerman and Professor Cranston, who are to be warmly congratulated on collating the book, have been closely involved in the Inquiry. Professor Cranston is the academic consultant to the Inquiry and Mr Zuckerman provided an insight into an alternative approach to civil litigation founded as to costs on the system in Germany. The editors have drawn together a remarkable collection of essays from distinguished authoritative commentators from this country and abroad. The essays subject a number of the recommendations in the interim Report to a critical examination. This can only be beneficial for the future of the Inquiry.

The examination is primarily from an academic perspective. It includes . . .

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