You published two depressing despatches from the front line on 3 March from Mr Hall and Mr Baskind. Would that they were isolated examples of the inadequacies and sometimes sheer incompetence of court staff. The net effect is that costs are needlessly incurred and then, inevitably, borne by one or other of the solicitors.

The whole thrust of ‘reforms’ over the past 20 years has been to impress upon us that the court knows best and that solicitors are incapable of reaching sensible arrangements between themselves for the efficient conduct of litigation.

Of course the court has a role to play in regulating and sometimes penalising abuse of the rules, but that is a function which should be lightly applied. Perhaps we needed an outrageous decision such as Mitchell to bring us all to our senses.

John Alcock, Manchester