Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Unfettered access to the courts is the cornerstone of the American concept of justice, yet even today we are far from achieving this ideal. Recently much progress has been achieved in improved legal services for the poor;' but the poor will never have completely free access to the courts unless the American rule that each litigant must bear the burden of paying his own attorney's fees is changed...

Since the first note of protest in 1925, a few writers, recognizing the intimate relationship between attorney's fees and full relief for the wronged party, have urged the adoption of some form of the English system, which taxes all costs, including attorney's fees, to the losing litigant. Much of their work went unnoticed and, as a result,the reform movement became quiescent; however, expanding concepts of social responsibility have revived interest in the subject. This note will analyze the reform movement, the conflicting policies involved, and the reasons for the previous failures of reform, with a view toward formulating a meaningful solution to the problem.