The the court use in the modern society,

The delay in
legal proceedings, complexity of jurisdiction and high cost of court
proceedings endangered the court use in the modern society, to combat with
these problems, Lord Woolf was commissioned in 1994 to review the rules and
procedures of civil courts in England and Wales.1 An
interim and final report in 1995 and 1996 was published under the heading
‘Access to Justice’ along with the set of civil procedure rules in a draft
manner which introduced a unified set of rules.2Further
this essay will examine the effectiveness of these reforms in terms of reducing
the cost, delay and complexity of the civil justice system.


The major
success of the Woolf reform would be creating a modified civil justice system
which will function in an effective and efficient manner by dealing the cases
justly by ensuring that both the parties are regarded with the same rights and
condition, Reduction in the cost, delay and complexity are also one of the
major goal of this reform3.
Lord Woolf suggested that fundamentals of the civil litigation system of
England and Wales must be changed, further he implemented new set of unified
rules through civil procedure act which is applicable for both the high court
and county courts, Lord Woolf also aimed at making the system less adversarial
by shifting the control of cases from the litigants to the judges4.

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As mentioned
above, reducing the cost and delay of cases will result in effective and
efficient functioning of our civil justice system as it plays a vital role in
commercial, financial and industrial condition of the country as Lord Woolf
said5. Initially,
civil procedure rules were revised to reduce the complexity of the legal
proceedings, they were written in plain English in the form of practice
direction which makes the rules easily understandable and helps in saving time
by providing clarity.6
Pre-action protocols were one of the reforms introduced for this purpose, it
encourages the parties of the case to exchange full information about the case
before commencing any legal proceeding, the main aim of this is to settle the
disputes without the need of court hearings.7
However, this does not enjoy the same status as civil procedure rules as it is
applicable only to some areas of law.8 If
the parties are not able to settle the dispute, then they must consider
alternative dispute resolution as the next stage to resolve the problem, the
main aim of this rule is to hold litigation as the last resort.9


Pre action protocols
gave positive results as eight more protocols were established in addition to
the former two.10
However, research carried out by Tamura Groiely, Richard Moorhead and Pamela
Abrams (2002) revealed that the problem of delay have not been solved as
solicitors had to work more before the legal proceedings and had a negative
effect on cost as it increased the front load and resulted in higher cost.11


Courts encouraged
the use of alternative dispute resolution before starting a legal proceedings
to avoid delay and court fees, there are three different forms of alternative
dispute resolution, they are mediation, conciliation and arbitration.12
Common claim of alternative dispute resolution is that it is cheaper and
quicker but review published by the government carried out by Tamara Goriely and Tom Williams stated that the amount of time and
cost is equivalent to that of court proceedings but it is not same for all the
cases as it differs according to the complexity of the case.13However
ADR is strongly encouraged wherever it is appropriate, consider the case Burchell
v Bullard 2005 where the costs of ADR would have been way cheaper compared
to the amount spent on this litigation.14Statistics
also showed fall in number of cases came to the court which indicates the
success of ADR.15


One of the revolutionary concept of
this reform is case management where the control of civil litigation was shifted
from litigants to judges.16 The
process initiates by allocating the case into the appropriate track, there are
three tracks in the system namely small claims track, fast track, multi-track –
Fast track helps to settle the case in quicker and cheaper way, the main aim is
to offer litigation in an affordable cost, proportionate to the complexity of
the case this helps in less fortunate to attain justice but it deals with cases
worth not more than £5000, small claim track deals with cases worth £5000 –
£15000 all the other cases are dealt in multi-track.17


According to the research done by
the Lord Chancellor’s Department “Further
Findings: A continuing evaluation of the Civil Justice Reforms”, case
management appears to be a success as it makes the system less complex through categorisation,
It also helps in early settlement of cases as court follows a fixed timetable
in fast track.18
In contrast, Professor Zander stated that the reform did not help in reduction
of delay, cost and does not result in fair judgement in addition to this Rand
report also added that it results in increase in expense as it generates extra
work to the litigants before the start of the legal proceedings.19 Another
reform introduced to control cost is conditional fee agreement established to
encourage parties to pursue legal proceeding by reducing the risk by
introducing ‘no win, no fee ‘rule.20
However it sometimes increased the cost as it enabled lawyers to charge
extremely high cost.21


Woolf reforms have resulted in revolutionary
change in the civil justice system by simplifying civil procedure rules and
creating a simpler system, helped in cutting down case load from the court with
the help of ADR and pre-action protocol.22
Case management helped in settling the small claim cases faster but it failed
to reduce the delay and cost rather increased it.23The
reason for the prevalence of the problem is the front loading cost as it
requires extra work from the litigants.24
However according to Lord Chancellors observations, its advantages outweighed
the drawbacks as it provided justice to the poor.25



1 Paula
Loughli and Stephen Gerlis, Civil Procedures (2nd edn,
Cavendish publishing limited 2004)

para 1

3 Michael
e stamp, ‘Are the woolf reforms an antidote for the cost disease? The
problem of the increasing cost of litigation and english attempts at a
solution’ 2001 22(2) U Pa J Int’l Econ L 353

4 Richard
Crump, ‘New Civil Procedure Rules in UK’ (Steamship Mutual, june
1999) accessed
9 January 2018

5 Norton
Rose , ‘UK: A Change In The English Civil Justice System – The Woolf
Reforms’ (Mondaqcom, 17 september 1999) accessed
11 January 2018

6 Civil
procedure act 1997

7 Bobette
Wolski, ‘Reform of the Civil Justice System two decades past –
implications for the legal profession and for law
teachers’ 2009 21(3) Bond Law Review 200

8 ‘Civil
Procedure Rules (CPR): What are Civil Procedure
9 January 2018

9 Hazel
Genn, ‘What Is Civil Justice For? Reform, ADR, and Access to
Justic’ 2013 24(1) Yale Journal of Law & the
Humanities 403


10 ‘The
Impact of the Woolf Reforms in the U.K.'(Allen&overy, 19 February
accessed 9 January 2018

11  Anderson Andall, ‘The effect of the Woolf
reforms on Access to Justice’
9 January 2018

12 Gary
Slapper and David Kelly, The English Legal System (17
edn, Routledge 2016) 594-565

13 Rebecca
Huxley-binns and Jacqueline Martin, Unlocking The English Legal System (3rd
edn, Hodder Education 2010) 110

14 Burchell
v Bullard 2005 EWCA civ 358 23

15 Paula
Loughli and Stephen Gerlis, Civil Procedures (2nd edn, Cavendish publishing
limited 2004)

16 Mariyam
Harunah, ‘From the Woolf to the Jackson Reforms – but where are we now?’ (La
Revue, 8th april )

accessed 9 January 2018

17 Michael
e stamp, ‘Are the woolf reforms an antidote for the cost disease? The
problem of the increasing cost of litigation and english attempts at a
solution’ 2001 22(2) U Pa J Int’l Econ L 357-358

18 ‘Further
Findings- A continuing evaluation of the Civil Justice Reforms'(The National
Archives, 17 Jan 2009) <>
accessed 9 January 2018

Michael Zander,’Zander on Woolf’ (New Law Journal, 13 March 2009)
accessed 9 January 2018

20  ‘Conditional Fee Agreements Explained’ <> accessed 9 January 2018

21 Fenton
Bresler, ‘Heads I win; tails you lose’ Independent (London, 29 July 1997)

22 ‘ADR
and Litigation (1997)’
accessed 9 January 2018

23 ‘Further
Findings- A continuing evaluation of the Civil Justice Reforms'(The National
Archives, 17 Jan 2009) <>
accessed 9 January 2018

24 Kate
Hurford,’Government Says Woolf Reforms are Working Well’ (International Law
Office, 24 September 2002)
accessed 9 January 2018

25 ‘The
Impact of the Woolf Reforms in the U.K.'(Allen, 19 February
accessed 9 January 2018


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