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UK: Business-judicial summit on reducing trial costs

Commentators have lately aimed much criticism at the conduct of Great Britain's most expensive trial ever, resulting from a lawsuit waged by the liquidators of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International against the Bank of England; it ended when BCCI withdrew the suit after vast expense to both sides. Bank of England governor Mervyn King condemned the action as "the most expensive fishing expedition in history". Now The Times reports that "judges are hosting a top-level summit with the City [i.e. the leadership of the financial sector] to thrash out reforms that will prevent lengthy trials" such as the recent one.

The hope is that a blueprint for reform will emerge that will cut drastically the length of such cases and prevent their recurrence.

The judges and City businessmen are expected to focus on procedural reforms: active case management, time limits on opening and closing speeches, as well as on cross-examination and possibly a bar on cases going to the House of Lords when both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have ruled one way.

The idea of moving to a more inquisitorial system has also been floated but is not likely to be popular with judges.

To put it very mildly indeed, it's hard to imagine any summit even remotely resembling this one taking place in this country. Perhaps one reason is that the American legal profession is more apt to assume that questions of civil procedure and court reform are matters for the profession to decide among itself, with outside assistance not much welcomed.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.