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Civil Court Reforms Come into Force

Tuesday 22nd September marked the start of the new legal year and also saw the official launch of the new All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court and the Sheriff Appeal Court.

The new courts are part of a package of reforms to Scotland’s court system heralded by the Scottish Civil Courts Review, which found that the Scottish civil courts provided a service to the public that was slow, inefficient and expensive. The Review recommended the establishment of these new courts as part of the measures required to ensure an efficient civil courts system.

The Scottish Parliament approved the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and has since enacted further secondary legislation to implement the upcoming changes. The Scottish Civil Justice Council has also prepared the necessary court rules.

The Sheriff Personal Injury Court, located at Edinburgh sheriff court, will provide a new central forum of expertise for personal injury cases. The court will deliver benefits including specialist personal injury sheriffs, specialist personal injury court procedures and civil jury trials. This should help these cases to settle swiftly and efficiently.

The threshold under which only the sheriff court can deal with civil cases will rise to £100,000, freeing up the Court of Session to deal with Scotland’s most complex and high value civil legal disputes. The Sheriff Personal Injury Court will have jurisdiction in personal injury cases exceeding £5,000, workplace-related personal injury actions exceeding £1,000, and any workplace-related personal injury case under £1,000 remitted to the court by any local sheriff.

“We want to create a modern justice system that is fair, accessible and efficient and that meets the needs of the people of Scotland today and these reforms are a key part of this,” explained Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse. “If we can encourage earlier resolution of disputes and make more efficient use of court resources then this will improve the public’s access to effective justice.”

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