The current civil justice system is shaped by the new Civil Procedure Rules that came into force on 26 April 1999. These rules represent the most important reform of the civil justice system in the 20th century. They result from the Lord Woolf report, Access to Justice.
The main objective is to change the litigation culture in the UK. The 1st rule of the new Civil Procedure Rules put lays down an overriding objective: courts must be able to deal with cases ‘justly’.
In the old system, practitioners were responsible for managing cases. However, their tactics caused delays and costs. This did not serve their clients’ interests.
Litigation should now be regarded as the last option, since courts should always encourage parties to come to a pre-trial settlement at any stages of the proceedings. This is facilitated by the fact that courts are the active managers of cases. This is called case management. The aim is to deal with each case diligently and swiftly.