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Sizing up

What does the future hold for the civil and family justice system? DJ Michael Buckley assesses the upcoming challenges

16 January 2012

The dawn of a new year presents a suitable occasion to reflect on the past, consider the present and look to the future.

The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 enjoined judges to take hold of cases and timetable them though to conclusion with firmness and rigour. Justice delayed was justice denied. Proportionality is not just a desirable aim but an essential element of civil justice. Judicial case management, the allocation of claims to the appropriate track, the control of experts and costs were introduced, and a brand new set of rules gave us the tools to achieve these aims.

Performance has been mixed. The concept that experts owe an overriding duty to the court and have an obligation to identify why they disagree with each other is to be welcomed. The timetabling of small claims and fast-track trials with the latter generally being heard within a day are all solid achievements. The diverting of many claims to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution processes is gen...

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