LAG slams Woolf on court fees

LORD Woolf has been accused by the Legal Action Group of making a deliberate political decision to “play down” the Government's policy of increasing court fees.

The LAG describes the planned fees hike as objectionable and constitutionally suspect. It says Woolf made an implicit political decision to duck an issue likely “to provide an additional barrier to justice for poor people”.

The accusation appears in a detailed briefing paper provided by the pressure group for its one-day civil justice conference last Saturday.

The group praises Woolf for “a deliberate and thoughtful intervention” into the debate on civil justice reform. But it says the report is biased in favour of existing litigants when “those who receive least justice in society are those who have no access to the remedy available to meet the wrong they face”.

The group adds that the report's scope is limited by its lack of research facilities and a concentration on High Court procedures at the expense of County Courts.

It also warns of the dangers of mediation being used by the Government as an excuse to cut legal aid spending.