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Legal Updates

Ten facts ten years after the Woolf reforms

03 February 2010 #Dispute Resolution

Civil court procedure was reviewed from top to bottom by Lord Woolf and April 1999 saw the Civil Procedure Rules ("CPR") come into force, introducing new terminology, new procedures, new fees and promotion of alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation).

Here are 10 facts which reflect the changes and the current situation we now have under the CPR:

1.       A voluntary pilot mediation scheme at Central London County Court had a take-up rate of 4% before 1999.  By 2003 there was an increase in take-up but settlement rates decreased from 62% to 40%.

2.       Proceedings commenced in the High Court have reduced since the introduction of the Woolf reforms:

    • 1996 - 142,505
    • 2005 - 15,317
    • 2007 - 64,046

3.       The proportion of defended fast and multi track cases that are completed otherwise than by a hearing was 86.5% between the first quarter of 2008 and the same time in 2009.

4.       Proceedings in the County Court have also reduced since the introduction of the Woolf reforms: 

    • 1998 - 2,245,324
    • 2005 - 1,870,374
    • 2007 - 2,015,000

5.       The average time from issue of a claim to setting down for trial fluctuated from 1996 to 2003 between a high of 143 weeks and a low of 103 weeks.  By 2004 this dropped to just 43 weeks.

6.       Two years after the CPR allowed the Court to direct the parties to select a single joint expert the Lord Chancellor`s Department reported that post-CPR, joint expert witnesses were used in 41% of cases involving an expert witness.

7.       The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution ("CEDR") statistics for 2004 confirm CEDR`s caseload for 2004 increased by 8% to 693 cases.

8.       A record 502 law firms used CEDR for dispute interventions in 2004.

9.       75% of CEDR`s cases settled on the day of mediation or shortly thereafter.

10.     In a survey of solicitors in 2001 - 80% said the reforms were an improvement on the previous system.

Clarkslegal, specialist Dispute Resolution lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Dispute Resolution matter please contact Clarkslegal's dispute resolution team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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