SB 14-63 Courts Reform Bill: Stage 3

This briefing looks at Stage 1 and Stage 2 consideration of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill. The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 6 February 2014. The Bill will implement, broadly, the reforms to the structure and procedure of the civil courts proposed in the Scottish Civil Courts Review (the “Gill Review”). The reforms are intended to make the civil justice system in Scotland more effective and efficient.

 The key proposals are:

 ·         an increase in the “exclusive competence” (or privative jurisdiction) of the sheriff court. The exclusive competence dictates the monetary value below which cases must be heard in the sheriff court. Increasing exclusive competence will have the effect of moving business from the Court of Session to the sheriff courts

 ·         introducing a new judicial office of “summary sheriff” to deal with less serious criminal cases and some civil cases, including lower value cases and some urgent matters

 ·         creating a Sheriff Appeal Court to hear appeals from the decisions of sheriffs and summary sherrifs in both civil and less serious criminal cases

 ·         allowing cases to be heard by sheriffs who specialise in their subject matter in certain circumstances, including the creation of a specialist personal injury court

The main issues raised during the Bill’s passage so far have been:

 ·         the level at which exclusive competence should be set

 ·         access to the services of advocates

 ·         whether the sheriff courts can cope with the cases which would be transferred under the Bill’s proposals without additional resources

whether it is appropriate for single sheriffs to hear appeals from the decisions of other sheriffs, as may be the case in the proposed Sheriff Appeal Court

Read SPICe briefing:

Published: 25 September 2014

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