Ex-judge Laddie slams Woolf reforms

Sir Hugh Laddie has used his first interview since resigning from the High Court to criticise the Woolf reforms.

“I belatedly came to the conclusion that the Woolf reforms were wholly unsatisfactory,” said Laddie in The Lawyer today (see page 14).

He said the reforms merely gave new names to the old procedures, never tackling the real costs burden of litigants.

“Plaintiffs became claimants and so on and so forth. My view is that you don’t turn a dog into a cat by calling it kitty,” said Laddie. “But it was worse than that because there was this communal delusion of, ‘oh look, we’ve reformed the system’. I think it’s going to be harder to reform the system now as everyone thinks it’s been done. But nothing’s been done.”

Laddie thinks the reforms should be far more radical. “I’d get rid of all disclosure unless a judge is persuaded that there are documents that are absolutely necessary for a case. I’d impose severe guillotines on cross-examination. And I mean severe guillotines. I’d impose guillotines on submissions. Cases shouldn’t last more than two days. There might be exceptions, but that general approach would apply even to heavy cases,” he said.