Group actions will be permitted in the Court of Session for the first time under new rules approved by the court and published today.

The rules have been made under part 4 of the Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Act 2018, which enables two or more people with the same, similar, or related claims, to raise court proceedings in a single action.

Group proceedings, also known as multi-party actions or class actions, benefit claimants with lower value claims which it would be too costly to raise in separate actions. An example would be a large scale consumer dispute where different people want to seek financial damages against the same company for the same or similar reasons.

The rules provide an "opt-in" model for group proceedings. Under this model, the court’s decision on the case will extend only to individuals who have subscribed to the group proceedings action. A successful outcome in the group proceedings could not be relied on by anyone else. Equally, non-subscribers would not be bound to accept a settlement from the defender and could raise their own claim.

The Scottish Civil Justice Council, which prepares the court rules, will continue work to consider a number of related policy matters, including extending the rules to public law (judicial review) cases and the consideration of an "opt-out" regime, which affects everyone in the relevant class unless they choose not to be involved.

Lord Carloway, the Lord President and chair of the Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC), said: "The Council has worked very hard to ensure that the new rules will be flexible and enable group proceedings to proceed efficiently in the court, saving time and money. The Council has focused on making the rules as straightforward as possible for those individuals who will benefit from the new procedures."

Click here to view the new rules. They come into force on 31 July 2020.