Adrian Zuckerman Civil Justice

Adrian Zuckerman

Professor of Civil Procedure at the University of Oxford
Fellow of University College, Oxford
Editor, Civil Justice Quarterly

Zuckerman's principal interest is civil procedure. One of his principal contributions has been to rescue this important subject from the academic neglect it has suffered in English Universities. His works expose the underlying principles and policies which influence and inform the rules and their application in litigation practice. They subject litigation practice to rigorous intellectual analysis, which exposes weaknesses in the rules and tensions in their application by the courts. Wherever possible he seeks to show how a correct understanding of theory can provide sensible solutions to difficulties encountered in the course of practice. Through his teaching, published work and numerous talks he has made a substantial contribution to the development of this branch of the law in England.

He has been particularly concerned with the excessive and unpredictable cost of litigation in England. As an adviser to the Lord Woolf inquiry on access to justice, he drew attention to the correlation between financial incentives and litigation costs and introduced in England the idea of fixed cost litigation. He has promoted the idea that the adjudication of civil disputes is a public service, which is subject to budgetary constraints and which has to satisfy the public expectation for a system capable of providing a reasonably competent and expeditous resolution of disputes at a reasonable and proportionate cost.

His book, Civil Procedure (Lexisnexis 2003), has promoted a principled approach to decision making in matters of procedure and has influenced the court in key areas. It is now in its second edition: Zuckerman on Civil Procedure Principles of Practice (Sweet & Maxwell, 2006). This book and other writings have been referred to on numerous occasions in the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the county courts and in foreign jurisdictions, such as the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prior to taking up civil procedure, Zuckerman worked in the field of evidence. His book Principles of Criminal Evidence (OUP 1989) represented a wholly novel approach to the law of evidence. The basic idea running throughout was that fact finding in the courts was not a pure exercise of establishing brute facts but was a more complex process because it was impregnated with moral and legal choices. He argued that the criminal process was shaped by the purpose that it served and by the moral quality that it sought to obtain for its outcomes. He concluded that there was more than one system of rules governing the fact-finding process. Each such system was underpinned by aims, principles, values and the like, which were dictated by the purpose that the fact-finding system served and by the qualities it sought to imprint in its outcomes. Hence, the criminal law of evidence was different from the civil law of evidence. The former was shaped by concerns that are foreign to civil proceedings: safeguarding the citizen from invasive police power, protecting the innocent from conviction, ensuring that convictions inspire confidence in the justness of the criminal system. His ideas proved influential. For example, he was critical of the right of silence to the extent that it prohibited the drawing any inference from the suspects refusal to answer police questions. Within five years of the publication of the book the law was changed in a way that broadly reflects the position advanced in the book (the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 34-38). In 2004 Zuckerman published with Professor Paul Roberts Criminal Evidence (OUP, 2004). This book builds on the underlying ideas of the 1989 book and develops a more sophisticate theory of criminal evidence, incorporating notions of liberal democracy and self-determination. It had an immediate impact and received widespread acknowledgment in the numerous favourable reviews.

Adrian Zuckerman teaches the Principles of Civil Procedure course for the BCL/MJur degree at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oxford.
He runs the Civil and Public Litigation (Procedure) course for the LLM degree at the Faculty of Laws, University College, London.