Hard on the heels of the Review Civil Litigation Costs in England and Wales by Lord Justice Jackson; and taking up the recommendation made by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill in his report of the Review of the Scottish Civil Courts, the Scottish Government has announced a review of the costs and funding of litigation in Scotland.
The review will be undertaken by the current Sheriff Principal of Glasgow and Strathkelvin, James Taylor, and will commence when Sheriff Principal Taylor retires from the bench in April.
The terms of reference for the review are to review the costs and funding of civil litigation in the Court of Session and Sheriff Court in the context of the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review, and the Scottish Government's Response to that review.
Announcing the review, the Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing MSP said:"It is this Government's desire to make Scotland a forum of choice for litigation and to ensure Access to Justice for all Scotland's population. This review will better inform the costs of litigation, the barriers which prevent access to the courts for some and consider what alternative options there may in the context of the Scottish Civil Courts Review conducted by Lord Gill."
In undertaking this review, Sheriff Principal Taylor is to:
- consult widely, gather evidence, compare our expenses regime with those of other jurisdictions and have regard to research and previous enquiries into costs and funding, including the Civil Litigation Costs Review of Lord Justice Jackson
- consider issues in relation to the affordability of litigation; the recoverability and assessment of expenses; and different models of funding litigation (including contingency, speculative and conditional fees, before and after the event insurance, referral fees and claims management)
- consider the extent to which alternatives to public funding may secure appropriate access to justice, and pay particular attention to the potential impact of any recommendations on publically funded legal assistance
- have regard to the principles of civil justice outlined in Chapter 1, paragraph 5 of the Civil Courts Review
- consider other factors and reasons why parties may not litigate in Scotland
- report with recommendations to Scottish Ministers, together with supporting evidence within 18 months of the work commencing.
This review represents yet another step on the road to the reform of the civil justice system in Scotland. Its work is awaited with interest.