Inns staff roll up their sleeves

The staff and students of the Inns of Court School of Law will roll up their sleeves and give blood this week to help the plight of a five-year-old girl with acute leukaemia.

The young girl, Charlotte Shroder, requires a bone marrow transplant, but has a rare type of marrow that has not found a match with registers in the UK or overseas.

Her case came to the attention of the Bar Council's senior education officer, Keith Northrop, whose six-year-old daughter attends the same school as Charlotte.

Northrop, who is a former senior lecturer at the Inns of Court School of Law, is helping to organise the blood donation for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust.

Charlotte has undergone nearly four years of chemotherapy, having been diagnosed with acute leukaemia at 18 months.

The chemotherapy was unsuccessful and she suffered a relapse in 1994.

“I'm sure that everyone feels for Charlotte and others in her position,” said Northrop.

“The Anthony Nolan Trust is untiring in its search for bone marrow matches and needs as large a donor bank as possible.”

The Bone Marrow Donor Recruitment Clinic will be setting up at The Inns of Court School of Law offices at 39 Eagle Street in London on Friday this week from 12 pm to 2pm.

A public education programme to boost awareness of the workings of the law and the courts is essential if the illusive goal of equal access to justice for all is ever to be achieved.

The proposal is one of a number of recommendations outlined in a blueprint for civil justice reform which was unveiled by the Legal Action Group last Thursday.

The LAG has produced its own book, Achieving civil justice, timed to pre-empt the publication of Lord Woolf's own Access to Justice report which is due to be unveiled in the summer.

And while it praises Woolf's attempts to get to grips with the problems of the current system, the group argues the inquiry “is just not fundamental enough”.

Among proposals outlined in Achieving civil justice are: reform of the cost rules with consideration given to an end to the litigant's general liability for his or her opponent's costs; thorough research into the possibilities provided by alternative dispute resolution; a unified court structure; and the shifting of greater administrative responsibilities onto the judge's shoulders.

LAG director Roger Smith said the group recognised the need for reform, but stressed that any overhaul of the system would have to be conducted extremely carefully.

“My great fear is that Lord Woolf will become a victim of his own momentum and he will come up with a very detailed reform package which will be implemented without adequate resources, research or piloting,” he said.