COVID-19 Response Update
To learn more about policies, procedures, and updates for the Brooklyn Law School community, visit COVID-19 Information.
Spring 2017

The discussion focused on the growing cost of civil litigation

The Right Hon. Lord John Dyson was the featured speaker at the International Business Law Breakfast Roundtable: “Controlling the Complexity and Cost of Civil Litigation: A View from a British Judge,” sponsored by the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, on Nov. 30, as part of a several-day visit with the Law School. Dyson recently retired from his position as master of the rolls, the second most senior judicial position in England and Wales.

Roberta Karmel, Centennial Professor of Law and cofounder and codirector of the Block Center, introduced Dyson to the audience of students, alumni, and faculty. She commended his work to improve access to justice and to address the challenges of civil procedure in England and Wales.

Dyson, who has been a vocal opponent of cuts to legal aid and increased court fees, served as the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeals and head of Civil Justice. He said the biggest hurdle to justice he witnessed during his time in that office was the cost of civil litigation, especially the expenses related to discovery.

Judges typically leave matters of discovery up to the parties, Dyson said, which often leads to a lengthy and expensive process that prioritizes the party with the most resources. An entire new industry focused on cost law has sprung up in response to this system, which Dyson called a “Rolls-Royce” process in dire need of change. He proposes giving judges the authority to limit disclosure to particular issues.

Several attempts have been made to reform the system in recent decades, but success has been elusive. Dyson lamented that efforts to limit litigators to standard disclosure, and the implementation of a range of different possible forms of disclosure, have both achieved the same result: “The courts and litigators continued as before.”

“Changing culture takes time and consistent, sustained effort, but it can be achieved,” he said.

The following evening, Karmel moderated a panel with Dyson, Hon. Claire R. Kelly ’93 of the U.S. Court of International Trade, Hon. Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York, and Professor Maryellen Fullerton, followed by a reception.