Mon 28 Sep 2015

Court reform from a personal injury perspective

22 September has brought the introduction of the next set of changes which will alter the practices of the civil courts in Scotland.  One area which sees a substantial difference is personal injury where two changes have a large impact on cases.

The first of these is the increase in the exclusive competence of the sheriff court to £100,000.  The result of this will be that many cases which would previously have been raised in the Court of Session must now be brought in the sheriff court.

The second change is the creation of the new All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court. Housed within Edinburgh Sheriff Court, this specialist court will take many of the cases which fall below the value threshold to get a claim in the Court of Session.  It has the competence to hear cases relating to personal injury or death from personal injury with a value of more that £5,000 and work place injuries with a value of £1,000 or more.

This will raise the question for many practitioners as to where best to raise their actions as, although the Court of Session may no longer be an option, they will have the choice between the new All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court or a local sheriff court. 

It is possible that in some cases it may be preferable to raise claims in a local sheriff court rather than the new court.  However, the new court has many advantages.  One example of which is the introduction of specialist sheriffs.  The designation of Sheriff Arthurson, Sheriff Braid, Sheriff Liddle, Sheriff Mackie, Sheriff McGowan and Sheriff Reith to this role was announced last month.

The procedure available for the running of cases in the new court, which shares many similarities with that of the Court of Session (such as e-motions procedure), may also be attractive.  Whilst practitioners have anticipated these changes questions about expenses remain, both in light of the approach which the new court will take to the sanction of counsel's fee and as to the implementation of the wider changes proposed by the Taylor review.


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