This is an extract of our The Civil Justice System document, which we sell as part of our GDL English Legal System Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.
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THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM
There are two main civil courts which hear civil cases at first instance.
These are the County Courts and the High Court.
The civil justice system before April 1999
Before the implementation of the Woolf reforms, there were two separate sets of civil procedure rules for the County
Courts and the High Court and Court of Appeal.
o The system was heavily criticised for being too expensive and slow.
The civil trial process the civil justice system after April 1999
In April 1999 new Civil Procedure Rules and accompanying
Practice Directions came into force.
o The new rules introduce the main recommendations of Lord
Woolf in his final report, Access to Justice.
The reforms aim to eliminate unnecessary cost, delay and complexity in the civil justice system.
The ultimate goal is to change fundamentally the litigation culture.
o Thus, the first rule of the new Civil Procedure Rules lays down an overriding objective which is to underpin the whole system.
This overriding objective is that the rules should enable the courts to deal with cases justly.
o The emphasis of the new rules is on avoiding litigation through pre-trial settlements.
Civil procedure rules
For non-personal injury actions, a claim may be started in the
High Court, where the claimant expects to recover more than
o For personal injury actions a claim can only be started in the
High Court where the claimant expects to recover at least
To push the parties into behaving reasonably during the pretrial stage, pre-action protocols have been developed.
o These lay down a code of conduct for this stage of proceedings.
Alternative dispute resolution
At various stages in a dispute's history, the court will actively promote settlement by alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Case management has been introduced, whereby the court plays an active role in managing the litigation.
o To determine the level and form of case management, cases have been divided into three types:
Small claims track;
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