Woolf to enlist retired solicitors

Lord Woolf is speaking to commercial judges to try and get retired City solicitors on to the bench.

He told a seminar on his civil justice reforms at Richards Butler: “There are very able litigators who have to retire at an early age by judicial standards. They have spent their whole lives managing cases and provide a reservoir of talent to supplement and assist the judiciary.”

City solicitors have welcomed his comments. A survey of City litigators last year revealed an astonishing 71 per cent were interested in seeking a judicial appointment.

One said: “It will greatly increase the commercial sense of the bench.”

But there was also a sense of caution. One City litigation partner said: “I suspect that worries about costs may whittle down the proposal. We don't want solicitors to become a second tier of judge: nothing more than a glorified master doing all the pen pushing.”

Lord Woolf also suggested that some cases should have two judges sitting, to prevent delays if one becomes indisposed.