8.37Sir Peter Middleton was appointed by the new English government to conduct a review of civil justice and legal aid.902 He reported in September 1997. He mainly supported the implementation of the Woolf Reports. He saw the interaction of the civil justice and legal aid reform programmes as being mutually consistent and reinforcing. “Better control of legal aid will help to release resources to allow more funding to alternative dispute resolution, information services, court-based advice and targeted help for litigants-in-person”. Certainly, if reforms to the dispute resolution system for handling custody and guardianship cases, as suggested in this Consultation Paper, are to be implemented fully, reform of the legal aid system in funding mediation will also be required.
8.38Lord Woolf acknowledged that “the key problems are cost, delay and complexity which stem from the uncontrolled nature of the litigation process.” These problems are not unique to the civil justice system. The English reforms, which are still in the process of being implemented, should continue to be addressed as they provide much assistance to the sub-committee in considering proposals for reform of our family dispute resolution system and resistance to reform. However, Hong Kong’s cultural conditions and its own systems must be taken into account in addressing the relevance of the reforms suggested by the Lord Chancellor’s Department, Lord Woolf’s reports or Sir Middleton’s report. The report and recommendations of the Chief Justice’s Committee on the desirability of introducing a court-annexed mediation scheme in Hong Kong are relevant in this context and should also be considered, and its recommendations should be adapted for the Family Court in Hong Kong.903
902 See Internet site - http://www.open.gov.uk/lcd/middle/summary. htm.
903 August 1993. See chapter 12.