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Scottish Courts: Changes on the Way

Scottish Courts: Changes on the Way

The Lord President of the Court of Session, Lord Gill, yesterday announced a timetable for implementation of various parts of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014:

From September 2015

  • A new personal injury court with Scotland-wide jurisdiction will be established in Edinburgh.
  • The threshold for raising cases in the Court of Session will increase from £5,000 to £100,000
  • A new Sheriff Appeal Court will be created to deal with appeals from sheriffs.  The court will have nationwide jurisdiction (rather than the present appeals to the sheriff principal which are on a more local basis). The sheriff appeal court will deal with criminal cases from September 2015 and January 2016 for civil cases.
  • Parties raising actions for judicial review will, as a new step, require to obtain permission from the Court of Session. 

From Spring 2016

  • Summary Sheriffs will deal with a new simplified procedure in the sheriff court for minor criminal cases and low value and routine civil disputes from Spring 2016.   

Much detail is still required on how these plans will be implemented and only time will tell whether they will bring the efficiencies intended.  

New specialised court

Lord Gill also announced his intention to launch a feasibility study into the creation of an “Energy and Natural Resources Court” in the Court of Session to provide a specialist court for litigation in these areas.

TV cameras in court

Finally, following the publication of the report of Lady Dorrian into filming court proceedings, Lord Gill accepted all of Lady Dorrian’s recommendations, which were as follows:

  • Filming of civil and criminal appeals, together with legal debates in civil cases to be allowed for live transmission.   Subsequent news broadcasting and documentary film to be allowed subject to guidelines which are to be issued.  
  • In certain circumstances criminal trials to be able to be filmed for documentary purposes but this will not include live transmission.  
  • Documentary recording to be allowed in civil cases but will exclude family and immigration matters. 
  • Filming will be subject to robust, clear and comprehensive guidelines which will be issued in due course. 

Up until now filming in court has been dealt with on a case by case basis.  The new guidelines will allow the media more regular access to cases of interest in the Scottish courts. 

Stephen Farrell
Senior Solicitor

Burness admin