LETTERS: Legal overhaul is just a smokescreen for Tory failures

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The Independent Online
IT is particularly unfortunate that the Government should, in this season of goodwill, seek to perpetuate the idea that simpler justice can be attained in the ways that it proposes; for example, by increasing the power of small claims courts to deal with claims between pounds 1,000 andpounds 3,000. Where the law and the facts in any case are the same, the task of proving that claim and of paying for the expense of witnesses is the same - whether the claim is for pounds 3,000 or pounds 3m.

It is also wrong to link libel cases and their expense with common or garden cases where the cost is less ("Tories back court overhaul to bring down cost of justice", 24 December). As a barrister engaged in less worthy cases than some recent libel actions, I can vouch for this.

Finally, the New Law Journal has reported in past weeks the comments of a professor of law from the USA who says the courts there have already tried the system of "trial management" which was advocated by Lord Woolf. But the benefits which he claims would ensue did not materialise. I am not surprised. The Government is simply creating a smokescreen to obscure the restrictions it imposes on legal aid provision - and thus on justice.

Stanley Best

Winkleigh, Devon

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