Background to the Review
In 2007 the Rt Hon Lord Gill, the Lord-Justice Clerk, was requested by the Scottish Government to undertake a wide ranging review of the civil courts system in Scotland. The remit of the Review included making recommendations for changes with a view to:
- improving access to civil justice in Scotland;
- promoting early resolution of disputes;
- making the best use of resources; and
- ensuring that cases are dealt with in ways which are proportionate to the value, importance and complexity of the issues raised.
Lord Gill, with the assistance of a Project Board, Policy Group and Review Team (“Review”), issued a Consultation Paper and received over two hundred responses.
The Review has now produced its Report and makes a number of recommendations which, if implemented, will significantly change the way in which civil matters are litigated within Scotland.
Summary and Implications
The Report criticises the current system, particularly with regard to inordinate delays and costs involved in litigating in the civil courts.
The Report recommends a number of changes including the following:
- the creation of new courts including a new personal injury court based in Edinburgh (but with jurisdiction throughout Scotland) and a national Sheriff Appeal Court;
- the increase of the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sheriff Court from £5,000 to £150,000. In other words, a pursuer should be unable to raise a case in the Court of Session for less than £150,000;
- the creation of a new judicial office of district judge who will deal with low value claims (allowing Sheriffs’ time to be freed up to some extent);
- new sets of rules (particularly with regard to lower value claims, case management and the appeal process);
- the modernisation of the court system through use of information technology; and
- litigants should be encouraged but not compelled to use Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation.
It is obviously for the Government to decide to what extent the recommendations are implemented. On the basis all the recommendations are implemented, it is hoped that the civil system in Scotland will be far more efficient and cost-effective than it is at present.
Please see the following links to the full Report (Volumes 1 and 2) and Synopsis: