Hazel Genn

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Sweet & Maxwell is part of Thomson Reuters. 2013 Thomson Reuters (Professional) UK Limited

Arbitration
2010
Publication Review
Judging Civil Justice
Hazel Genn
Reviewed by David Cornes
Subject: Administration of justice. Other related subjects: Civil procedure *Arbitration 388 In November and December of 2008, Dame Hazel Genn, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at University College London, delivered three lectures under the auspices of The Hamlyn Lectures. Two were delivered at University College London and one was delivered at Edinburgh University. In June 2009, a seminar was held at University College London to discuss the issues raised in the Lectures with a distinguished panel, including Lord Woolf, Professor Michael Zander and others. This book, published in 2010, is the product of those Hamlyn Lectures. A short review cannot do justice to the detail and importance of this book but it is hoped that what follows will give a taster of what can be found in its pages. Hazel Genn has shone a bright torch on to areas of the civil justice system that are rarely discussed openly. Undoubtedly, some of her views are controversial and provocative but they are all the better for that because she causes the reader to accept that fresh debate is needed about things that might otherwise either be taken for granted or ignored. A flavour of what the reader will discover can be found in the chapter headings: • Introduction: what is civil justice for?

• Civil justice: how much is enough?
• ADR and civil justice: what's justice got to do with it? • Judges and civil justice
She begins Chapter 1 with a quotation from Lord Diplock:
*Arbitration 389 “Every civilised system of government requires that the state should make available to all its citizens a means for the just and peaceful settlement of disputes between them as to their respective legal rights. The means provided are courts of justice to which every citizen has a constitutional right of access.”1 That theme is developed to see civil justice as being for the public good, with important and extensive social functions, and then it is compared with what we actually have. She sees the civil justice system as being under threat in a variety of ways. These include the external threat from the increasing budget for criminal justice, which is taking an ever increasing bite out of the overall Ministry of Justice budget, leaving civil justice less well funded. The internal threats she sees as being a tendency in the judiciary to see the determination of legal rights as being expensive, unnecessary and unpleasant, all of which goes hand in hand with a desire by the court system to push disputants to private dispute resolvers, such as mediators. She advocates stepping back from getting absorbed in looking at detailed improvements to procedural rules and trying to find a shared understanding of the purpose and value of civil justice. She draws attention to the curious fact that at a time when people have more legal rights, the smaller are the number of court cases. For example, in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, there were in excess of 350,000 sets of proceedings issued in one year in the mid-1990s whereas by 2001 that number had fallen dramatically to less than 25,000. In the same period, the number of trials has fallen from over 3,000 to somewhere near 600. The number of trials, as a percentage of proceedings started, runs at about 0.5 per cent. Hazel Genn's theme here is that these declining numbers appear to be a consequence of deliberate government policy in respect of which the government sees the civil justice system as providing only private benefits for individuals rather than...
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