The bill to expand the funding options for civil actions has passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs of all parties welcomed the Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill as it passed unopposed at stage 3. The bill implements recommendations of the report on the funding of civil litigation by Sheriff Principal James Taylor.

Among other provisions it allows solicitors to offer damages-based agreements, or "no win, no fee" agreements, which at present can be offered by claims management companies but not solicitors. It introduces sliding caps on success fees in personal injury and other civil actions, and also "qualified one-way cost shifting", under which those who successfully defend a personal injury damages claim will not be able to recover their costs except in certain circumstances.

Group proceedings, or class actions, will also be possible for the first time in Scotland.

Minister for Legal Affairs Annabelle Ewing commented: "The potential costs involved in civil court action can deter many people from pursuing legal action, even where their claim may have good grounds for success.

"This bill will improve the ability of people in Scotland who have a civil claim to pursue that case in the courts. It seeks to remove some of the barriers which, in the past, have deterred individuals from accessing justice in the civil courts."

Sheriff Principal James Taylor confirmed: "This bill achieves my objectives of rebalancing the relative bargaining strengths of parties to a personal injury litigation and properly regulating the funding system."

Gordon Dalyell, Vice President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) added: "APIL welcomes this Bill, which recognises the vulnerability of injured people in the court process. By giving them greater clarity and certainty, the bill will lead to a real increase in access to justice for people who need it most, and set a standard for the rest of the UK to follow.”

Kim Leslie of the Law Society of Scotland’s Civil Justice Committee also welcomed the bill, stating: "It will create a fairer, more accessible and affordable civil justice system for members of the Scottish public seeking redress through our courts."