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Speech by the Lord Chief Justice: Cutting the cloth to fit the dispute – Steps towards better procedures across the jurisdictions

  1. There is a view that procedure is not of intrinsic interest; that it is unimportant when compared with substantive law. That was my view when I finished reading law at Cambridge and (a few months later) qualified as a barrister. Hence my knowledge of procedure was then virtually nil. However, at the University of Chicago, where I went immediately after, it was very different. First year law students there had to study civil procedure, taught in 1969 through the perhaps over-tough application of the Socratic method by a great procedural scholar, Professor Geoffrey Hazard. It was the view of the law school that it was as necessary to have a grounding in procedure as it was in the more usual subjects of constitutional law, contract and tort. That view was plainly right.
  2. Procedure, in my view, is as central to the delivery of justice as the content of substantive law. It affects access to justice, the cost of obtaining justice, the time proceedings take, their complexity, the enforceability of judgments, jurisdiction and incidental matters, such as the employment of lawyers. Its reform is essential to the challenge faced nationally and internationally by the way our world has changed, and is changing, through the technological revolution. Procedural reform is at the core of the courts and tribunals reform programme on which we have embarked recently in England and Wales. It is, as your Chief Justice has made clear, at the heart of many of his reforms………………

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