Big court changes on the way, says Law Society
The Law Society of Scotland has today, 7 February, backed proposals in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill to create a new national personal injury sheriff court but has expressed disappointment at proposals to radically raise the threshold at which to litigate in the Court of Session.
Fiona Robb, Secretary to the Law Society of Scotland's Civil Justice Committee, said: "The Bill will dramatically change the civil court structure in Scotland.
"We back the Scottish Government's plans to create a new national personal injury court. This court will give litigants access to specialist personal injury sheriffs and court costs for litigants will also be reduced."
In addition, the Society has supported plans to reintroduce juries to civil cases in the sheriff court.
Fiona Robb said: "We support proposals to reintroduce juries to civil cases in the sheriff court, as it will increase public involvement in the decision making process and provide greater choice for litigants."
The Law Society is disappointed that the Scottish Government has not been persuaded by the Society's representations on fixing a lower threshold for the Court of Session. The Society argued that there should be an option, for cases in excess of £50,000, to be raised in the Court of Session.
Fiona Robb said: "The Scottish Government is right to raise the threshold; however, we would prefer to see the limit set at no more than £50,000.
"The Scottish Court Service needs to ensure that sheriff courts are adequately resourced to manage this significant transfer of business, particularly with the programme of closures currently taking place across the court estate. Without adequate resource, court users and the administration of justice overall could face substantial delays."
ENDS 7 FEBRUARY 2014
Notes to editors
The Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 6 February 2014. It can be viewed here.
Currently, the Court of Session can hear all civil cases where the sum sued for is £5,000 or above. The Bill proposes changing the requirements, so only cases valued at over £150,000 can be raised in the Court of Session.
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07 February 2014