LORD Woolf's impending civil justice reforms will swell the ranks of the district judiciary and lead to an “increasing recognition” of their work, according to their newly elected president.
District judge Dick Greenslade, the new president of the Association of District Judges, has identified Lord Woolf's plans for fast track litigation for claims under £10,000 as the key new challenge for district judges.
The Gloucester County Court judge is a recognised expert in county court procedures and is currently working on Woolf's inquiry team as an assessor.
He said district judges were ready and willing to tackle the new challenges represented by the impending Woolf reforms.
But he stressed reform would almost certainly lead to the need for more judges.
“Lord Woolf accepts that there's likely to be a need for more district judges, but it is difficult to say how many at this stage,” he said.
“Small claims and the Fast Track will between them account for 90 per cent of all civil cases that come to trial.
“In larger cases, significant case management is proposed and it's likely that the bulk of it, particularly in the early stages of a case, would be undertaken by district judges.”
Greenslade was elected to head the association at its annual general meeting on 29 March.
Guests at the annual dinner included Lord Justice Alan Ward and the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Richard Scott.
The association's spokesman, district judge Stephen Gold, said the association was delighted to have such a high profile judge as its leader.