Are you up to the mark on rules and regs? Can you cut the mustard with civil procedure small print? Do you have a fine and as yet unruined reading voice?

If so, why not sign up to this charity challenge and help provide essential legal sport. (Shouldn’t that be “support”? Ed)

The current crisis has introduced many obstacles to the conduct of litigation while maintaining socially acceptable distancing. One of the hardest has been for those who normally like to spout endless streams of obscurity from the footnotes in the so-called White Book, to be able to do so when, frankly, and not entirely for health reasons, you probably don’t want to be anywhere near them. But if you’re one of those procedural law-bores (surely “keen readers of Civil Procedure”?) now’s your chance to shine.

Here’s the deal. On 1 April 2020, we’re asking you to join one of seven charity “relay readings” of the White Book around the country.

This means reading the entire book from cover to cover, including all the Parts, rules and practice directions of the Civil Procedure Rules, plus all the commentary and footnotes, page by page, line by line, from start to finishing (red) tape.

Each team will consist of a dozen trial lawyers, dressed in full courtly costume (wigs, gowns, the lot) standing at two metre intervals along the street beginning from a landmark civil court building. Each member of the team will read 40 pages before handing over to the next member.

There will be no physical passing of book or paper. Each member will need to have their own copy or read it from their own book, tablet or other device.

Forty pages including commentary and footnotes is not a soft option. Criminal lawyers accustomed to the racier content of Archbold or Blackstone will quail at the dry patches and technical longeurs of their civil brethren’s bible.


Teams to assemble (suitably distanced) at 11 am at the following locations:

London: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand.

Bristol: Law Society, Colston Ave

Cardiff: Civil and Family Justice Centre, Park St

Birmingham: Civil Justice Centre, Bull St

Manchester: Civil Justice Centre, 1 Bridge Street West,

Leeds: Combined Court Centre, Oxford Rd

Liverpool: QEII Law Courts in Derby Square

The signal to begin will be given at noon. The first reader will intone the words of the “overriding objective” in rule 1 and continue from there onwards. After 40 pages, they will shout the words ‘Adjourn! Adjourn!’ and fall silent. Then the next reader will take up the baton by reading, mid-sentence if need be, where the previous left off.

There will be no lunch (short adjournment). When you’ve finished your reading, you can relax and have a drink or snack. But it’s meant to be an ordeal, and by jingo it’s going to be!


The team to complete the reading in the shortest time is the winning team.

Sign up via this link.

P.S. The new edition of Civil Procedure was published by Sweet & Maxwell on 31 March 2020. You can buy it from Wildy & Sons Ltd via this link. (Yes, it’s the same link. It was meant to be a joke, dammit, but unlike the virus it didn’t really catch on.)