Judicial review proceedings against the Scottish Parliament have been opened by Govan Law Centre as it attempts to prevent the loss of the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill.
The member's bill, introduced by Labour MSP Pauline McNeill and backed by the law centre, would limit rent increases for private sector tenants and increase availability of information about rent levels.
It secured the necessary cross-party support to be brought to the Parliament, but after being allocated to Holyrood's Local Government Committee for scrutiny, was dropped by a majority decision of the committee on the ground of workload. Unless it is reinstated or allocated to another committee, it will not be considered before the Scottish Parliament election next May.
Supporters of the bill claim the committee went against the will of the Parliament and that its decision, taken in private, breached fundamental principles of open democracy and accountability.
Their petition, brought against the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, seeks declarator that the decision was unlawful, irrational and ultra vires of the Scotland Act 1998 and the Parliament's own statutory order and standing orders; that MSPs on the committee failed to disclose interests as private landlords; and that the committee is required in terms of the standing orders to consider and report on the bill.
Govan Law Centre has raised the petition on behalf of a private residential tenant. Principal solicitor Mike Dailly said ahead of the court action: "The fact that a committee of a few MSPs can meet in private and decide to ditch a bill that has taken years of consultation and preparation to get this far, without even giving their reasons in public, is truly astonishing.
"The failure to adhere to the relevant rules and law appears to render the Local Government Committee's decision unlawful."