Headlines: July 9th, 1998

Public Sector managers can look to the radical reform about to undergo Britain’s legal system for hints about the forms of modernisation the Government is looking for.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, says he plans to sweep away restrictive practices that have allowed two lawyers, such as a solicitor and then a barrister, to charge the customer when the same job could have been done by one person.

He’s going to extend the use of no-win no-fee on money issues, so that the Legal Aid budget can be directed at social welfare issues like housing, employment, debt and family matters.

He said the reforms would make the law suit the people who need the system, not the people who work in it: “These reforms have one thing in common. They are focused on the needs of the people who have to use the courts. They will change the culture in which law is delivered. Civil justice will become faster, cheaper and simpler. The poor will still enjoy the safety net of the Legal Aid scheme and the majority will be able to use conditional fees to assert rights they thought had gone forever.”

Reforms to be introduced in April 1999 would speed up access to civil justice and would change the landscape in which many lawyers worked, he added.