22 September 2015
Today is not only the first day of the new legal year, it is also the day a number of key features of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 come into force.
Further to our previous articles on the reforms, which can be found here, the following is a round-up of the key changes taking effect from today.
New Privative Limit for Actions in the Sheriff Court
The exclusive jurisdiction of the Sheriff Court rises from £5,000 to £100,000. Before today, any action with a value over £5,000 could be raised in the Court of Session. This is no longer the case. Actions with a value not exceeding £100,000 must be raised in the Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Personal Injury Court (SPIC)
The new specialised Sheriff Personal Injury Court (SPIC) opens today. The SPIC is based in Edinburgh, but has jurisdiction over the whole of Scotland.
The SPIC has jurisdiction over actions for damages arising from personal injuries or the death of a person in which:
- The sum sought exceeds £5,000;
- The proceedings concern a work accident for payment of a sum exceeding £1,000; or
- A sheriff has certified that the importance or difficulty of the proceedings make it appropriate to transfer the proceedings to the SPIC.
Pursuers (claimants) with actions meeting the above criteria now have the choice of bringing their claim in either their local Sheriff Court or at the SPIC.
Civil Jury Trials and E-Motions
With the SPIC comes the introduction of rules allowing for civil jury trials in the new Court. The rules will not be completely unfamiliar to most, and essentially mirror the existing procedure for jury trials in the Court of Session.
Provisions also come into force which bring the e-motions procedure to the SPIC.
Sheriff Appeals Court
The new national Sheriff Appeal Court will deal with appeals from the Sheriff Court for criminal cases. Civil appeals are to be heard in this Court from 2016.
Court of Session and Supreme Court Appeals
New procedures for bringing appeals to the Inner House of the Court of Session and for some appeals to the Supreme Court of the UK also come into force.
A three-month time limit for bringing Judicial Reviews in the Court of Session now takes effect.
Other Changes Still to Come
- Sheriff Appeal Court to start hearing civil appeals
- Replacement of existing Small Claims and Summary Cause procedures with the new “Simple Procedure”
- Introduction of Summary Sheriffs to hear cases brought under the new Simple Procedure.
Today marks an important step in the modernisation of the Scottish Court system. With the new legal year comes the new challenge of adapting to the changes. As with any New Year’s resolution, there will undoubtedly be some initial struggles as we outgrow the habits learned under the previous procedures. We hope, however, that with time and perseverance, the reforms will have the intended effect of producing a more efficient civil justice system for Scotland.
If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact: Carly Forrest, Partner, Solicitor Advocate, E: email@example.com, T: 0141 221 8012.