Clamour for civil justice council grows as Lord Mackay throws out amendment

Pressure on Lord Mackay to introduce a civil justice council is growing following his rejection of a Law Society sponsored amendment to the Civil Procedure Bill, the first step in implementing Lord Woolf's reforms.

The Shadow Lord Chancellor, Lord Irving of Lairg, and the Law Society are publicly adding their voice to Lord Woolf and other practitioners' and consumer groups in the demand for a council comprising top judges and litigation lawyers to oversee Lord Woolf's reforms.

In rejecting the amendment proposing a civil justice council, Lord Mackay last week told the House of Lords that he had in mind a “consultative body”.

He said this body need not be enshrined in statute adding: “It's for that reason that so far I do not feel able to support statutory provision for the civil justice council precisely in the way proposed.”

But Lord Irving, who tabled the amendment said Mackay's “consultative body” was not what Woolf was calling for. “It is not about the making of new rules, but about monitoring and giving useful advice,” he said.

Suzanne Burn, secretary to the Law Society's civil litigation committee, told The Lawyer: “We will be wasting a lot of the good work that Lord Woolf has done if a body is not set up to continue with an overview of the reforms.”

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, in its formal response to Lord Woolf's draft rules, also called for the establishment of a civil justice council which should be “given the task of reviewing the existing rules of court alongside the new draft rules”.