At a conference in Glasgow yesterday, the Lord President, Lord Gill, set out a timetable for the introduction of the much-debated civil court reforms contained in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act received Royal Assent in November.

Timetable for Implementation of the Reforms

In his speech, Lord Gill set out the following timescales:

  • The process of appointment of the first summary sheriffs will be put into effect by July 2015
  • The simple procedure will be in force in Spring 2016

The following will take effect from September of this year:

  • The establishment in Edinburgh of a sheriff court with a Scotland-wide jurisdiction for personal injury cases
  • The extension of the exclusive jurisdiction of the sheriff court to actions with a value of up to £100,000
  • The establishment of the Sheriff Appeal Court, at first with jurisdiction for criminal cases and after January 2016 with jurisdiction also in civil cases
  • The introduction of the permission stage for judicial review proceedings

Recording and Live Broadcasting of Court Proceedings

Lord Gill also addressed the televising of court proceedings. A judge-led group set up to consider the issue, chaired by Lady Dorrian, made the following recommendations (all of which Lord Gill supported):-

  • Filming of appeals, and legal debates in first instance proceedings, should be allowed for live transmission. Subsequent news broadcasting and documentary film-making should be allowed subject to clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • In first instance civil business, filming for documentary purposes may be allowed, but should exclude certain cases such as those involving family and immigration matters.
  • Filming should be subject to robust, clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • Journalists, who register with the Scottish Court Service to gain access to the electronic portal-based system, should also be required to undertake compliance with the Contempt of Court Act. Journalists so registered should be permitted to use live text-based communication. Any person who is not on the register should require the permission of the presiding judge.

Energy and Natural Resources Court

Lord Gill also stated his desire to create an Energy and Natural Resources Court in the Court of Session, to serve the needs of Scotland's growing energy and renewables sectors.

Conclusion

Only time will tell if the reforms prove to be the success that Lord Gill believes that they will be. However, now that the timetable has been set, the legal profession can begin preparing for the implementation of these reforms in earnest.

The text of Lord Gill's speech can be found here.