Book review: Stuart Sime & Derek French, Blackstone’s Guide to The Civil Justice Reforms 2013 (OUP, 2013)’

Dr John Sorabji


In November 2008 Sir Rupert Jackson was appointed by the, then,
Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, to carry out a fundamental review of one of the perennial problems that affects the English civil justice system: excess litigation cost. Less than ten years after the last set of reforms – the Woolf Reforms – aimed at curing this problem had been implemented, more reform was needed. Sir Rupert’s review, which concluded in December 2009, found that the predominant cause of the continuing crisis was excess cost generated by the operation of conditional fee agreements (‘CFAs’), a form of litigation funding, which in turn were primarily used to finance personal injury litigation. Other causes were the failure to implement some aspects of the Woolf Reforms, such as docketing or the introduction of a fixed cost regime. Others still arose from the practical operation of the Woolf Reforms. Having identified the problems, Sir Rupert recommended wide-ranging reform, which was, broadly speaking, implemented on 1 April 2013 by a combination of primary legislation (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012), changes to the Civil Procedure Rules, and judicial decision (Simmons v Castle [2012] EWCA Civ 1039 and [2012] EWCA Civ 1288).

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