'Stop whingeing and get your house in order', says Woolf

THE Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, has hit out at critics of his civil justice reforms and told the legal profession to “put its house in order” in an exclusive interview with The Lawyer.

The Government is due to publish the rulebook this week, which will outline radically different procedural rules and practice directions due to be launched on 26 April.

In the interview he dismisses critics who say the delays in producing the rulebook, implementing new case management systems and training judges will undermine the reforms.

He says the Court of Appeal will take a dim view of any lawyer bringing satellite litigation on the grounds judges have failed to correctly interpret the new procedural rules.

However, lawyers remain concerned about the greatest legal shake-up this century.

“The new rules embody principles which are alien to most litigators, so if lawyers aren't organised and simply turn up on the day, there will be chaos,” says Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC of 2 Temple Gardens Chambers.

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers vice-president Frances McCarthy adds that the date of the rules' publication “doesn't give people time to become familiar with them.”

In the interview he also compared lawyers who criticise the reform plans to pessimistic farmers.