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Courts Reform Bill

At the beginning of September, the First Minister announced the legislative programme for the coming year, which includes the Courts Reform Bill. The measures in the Bill are designed to enable civil court actions to be resolved more quickly and economically than under the present system.

The Scottish Government recently concluded a consultation on key reforms to restructure the way in which civil cases and summary criminal cases are dealt with by the Scottish courts. The proposed reforms would implement the majority of the recommendations made by Lord Gill in his 2009 Report of the Scottish Civil Courts Review. The reforms, which are part of Government’s Making Justice Work programme, are intended to significantly increase the role of the sheriff courts and give the Court of Session its place as the higher civil court dealing with the most complex, high values claims.

The key reforms include:

  • The introduction of a new judicial tier in the sheriff courts to be known as “summary sheriffs” who would deal with lower level civil and criminal cases

  • Extending the exclusive competence of the sheriff court to cases where the sum sued for is less than or equal to £150,000 (the current limit is £5,000)

  • The introduction of a new national sheriff appeal court to deal with civil and less serious criminal appeals

  • The setting up of a specialist personal injury court that would have jurisdiction across Scotland and would be a centre of expertise in this area. part of government’s making justice work programme.

The Courts Reform Bill

By Catherine Hart

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.