Civil Justice Council line-up is revealed

A MIXED bag of critics and supporters of government policy has been appointed to the new legal watchdog, the Civil Justice Council, due to have its inaugural meeting on 20 March.

The 22-strong body will meet four times a year to co-ordinate and oversee changes to the civil justice system.

It will be headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, who first proposed the setting up of such a body in June 1995 in his interim report on speeding up justice.

The council's function is to promote the needs of civil justice and to keep under review its effectiveness in serving the user.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Scott, appointed head of civil justice by the previous Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, will act as vice-chairman of the council.

Other members include Legal Action Group head of policy Vicki Chapman, Legal Aid Board deputy chair Henry Hodge and the Law Society's Civil Litigation Committee chair Michael Napier.

Chapman said it was difficult to assess how influential the council would be. She said a lot depended on the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine's willingness to take on board its views.