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Should the Civil Courts be unified?

In January 2008 the Judicial Executive Board, comprising the senior judges in England and Wales, invited Sir Henry Brooke, a retired Appeal Court judge, to conduct an inquiry into the question of civil court unification. His terms of reference were to consider:

  1. present arrangements for the judiciary in relation to the civil jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales,
  2. current criticisms of these arrangements, both from a judicial and an administrative perspective,
  3. the likely impact on these arrangements if the ideas contained in the Judicial Resources Review and the Justice Outside London report [link required] are implemented,
  4. the implications of making further changes that would introduce a single civil court; and to
  5. recommend future durable structures for the use of the judiciary in the exercise of its civil jurisdiction.

His report concluded that plans for the unification of the civil courts should not be proceeded with. However, the report identifies a number of areas where the administration of civil justice could be improved and steps that might be taken to bring about such improvement. The JEB is currently considering its response to the report’s recommendations.