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Abstract

By the mid-1980s, the civil justice system in many common law jurisdictions was reportedly ‘in crisis’, crippled by excessive delay, cost and complexity in proceedings and out of reach of ordinary people. During the next two decades, law reform commissions and other agencies were charged with identifying problems with the civil justice system and with making recommendations for its improvement. These bodies seemed to be in ‘universal agreement as to the nature and severity of the problems afflicting the common law civil justice systems’ and they appear to have produced proposals that have much in common. Many reforms were implemented as a result of their efforts - the majority of the recommendations resulted in procedural reform achieved by legislation, rules of court and practice directions. Not unexpectedly, many reform agencies identified legal education as a factor contributing to the perceived crisis and made recommendations for change (and indeed, separate enquiries conducted into the state of legal education made similar recommendations). Reform agencies recognised that the system of civil litigation and the attitudes and skills of legal professionals (and law graduates) are inextricably linked. Legal education had to respond to and facilitate reform if reform was to be sustained.

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