Woolf's court reforms criticised

LORD Woolf's ideas for reform of the justice system came in for criticism at the Legal Action Group conference.

Cyril Glasser, UCL visiting professor, questioned whether proposals on timetabling would have the desired effect.

He also cast doubt on the effectiveness of one-off review bodies, calling instead for a system of on-going reform.

But Glasser, managing partner at Sheridans in London, said: “Lord Woolf has clearly identified the main problems.”

Pinpointing possible pitfalls of timetable reforms, he said: “By trying to speed things up we may be putting ourselves into the hands of the big firms and their costs and structures.”

He also highlighted the dangers of “interventionist” judges who might take on more of a political role.

“I would want to be satisfied that the judge is properly accountable for its decision-making,” he said.

Woolf, who chaired the debate, used the platform to reinforce his commitment to fundamental reform of the justice system.

“The system is now ready for change and it is my belief that we can bring about that change. I don't believe that this is an exercise which will be wasted. I think change will happen,” he said.