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Scottish Government agrees to lower proposed new limit for sheriff court actions

At the end of last week, the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, announced that the proposal in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, which is making its way through the Scottish Parliament, to increase the exclusive limit of the sheriff court from the current level of £5,000 to £150,000 would be modified to introduce a new limit of £100,000. This move comes in response to feedback from several interested groups, who gave evidence to the Justice Committee earlier this year, and expressed concern that the proposed limit of £150,000 was excessive and would lead to the sheriff courts being over burdened with the additional case load that the reform would bring. In addition, concerns were expressed that the increase in the  sheriff court's exclusive limit would lead to many claimants being deprived of the right to be represented by Counsel, which arises automatically in Court of Session actions, but has to be sanctioned by the court in sheriff court proceedings.

Some MSPs had called for the proposed limit to be lowered even further - to £50,000 or £30,000, but the Justice Secretary indicated that he considered that the revised level of £100,000 "strikes a reasonable balance" between the original figure proposed and the levels suggested by others.

Further comment on this decision will be coming soon. For more information, please contact Catherine Hart on 0141 228 8084.

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.