Goldsmith's ABA address calls for cut in 'paper mountains'

BAR COUNCIL chair Peter Goldsmith QC last week reiterated calls for a reduction in the paperwork involved in litigation during his speech to the American Bar Association conference.

The five-day conference, convened in London, was told lawyers in the UK and US should learn from each other's mistakes when making plans for increased access to justice.

“We must co-operate internationally. We can learn from the successes of our colleagues, and their failures,” said Goldsmith.

Goldsmith called on Lord Woolf, who is set to announce the preliminary findings of his review of the civil justice system in coming weeks, to “reject suggestions to extend paper-based litigation”.

Earlier this year a Bar working party put forward a number of suggestions aimed at toppling the profession's “paper mountains”. Among them was a proposal to appoint additional judges and open more courts, and plans to extend the small claims jurisdiction in the County Court.

“Anyone who has been in the vicinity of the civil courts will have seen the armies of young men and women emerging from solicitors' offices, their trolleys groaning with stacks of paper and lever-arch files,” said Goldsmith. “This mountain of paper is the biggest single reason for the increase in the costs of litigation.”