Associate, Bird & Bird, London, England
In 1996 Lord Woolf, Master of the Rolls, delivered “Access to Justice”, his final report on the civil justice system in England and Wales, to the Lord Chancellor. This report identified the need for fair, speedy and proportionate resolution of disputes and the need to use alternative routes to resolution before going to court. These principles are reflected in the Civil Procedure Rules introduced in 1999 and the preaction protocols introduced since 1999. These rules and principles govern the way in which civil court cases are conducted in England and Wales. References to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) have been strengthened over the last few years. For example, the UK Patent Office has been given statutory powers to give nonbinding opinions on patent validity and infringement of opinions. It will be interesting to see how much weight courts or other tribunals place on these UK Patent Office opinions.
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