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Courts Reform Act receives Royal Assent

New legislation will modernise Scotland’s courts

A new law that brings about the biggest modernisation of Scotland’s courts in a generation has been given Royal Assent yesterday.

The Act includes recommendations made by Lord Gill as part of the Scottish Civil Courts Review to improve the structure and operation of the courts, which were described as “slow, inefficient and expensive.”

The powers passed will ensure that the right cases are heard in the right courts at the right cost.

The reforms will change the procedures and processes in our courts and include:

  • Raising the exclusive competence of the sheriff court to £100,000
  • Introducing summary sheriffs to deal with some types of criminal and civil cases in the sheriff courts
  • Establishing a Sheriff Appeal Court

Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill said:

“I am delighted that this Government’s Court Reform Bill has become enshrined in law and has today received Royal Assent.

“Our courts have remained relatively unchanged for decades but this new legislation will bring about the most important change for Scottish courts for more than a generation.

“This is a hugely important step forward in making Scotland’s civil justice system more accessible, affordable and efficient for those people who need to resolve civil disputes.

“We have listened to and accepted concerns from some stakeholders and made amendments to ensure that people get access to the most appropriate legal representation in their cases.

“I am confident that the reformed courts structure, including the new national specialist personal injury court, will ensure that cases can be raised and dealt with quickly and effectively and there is easier and more affordable access to justice.

“We look forward to working with our partners across the justice system to implement these reforms. ”

Notes To Editors

Lord Gill’s Civil Courts Review can be accessed from the following link:

The Parliamentary Evidence Sessions on the Bill as well as further background material can be accessed from the following link:

The most recent civil court statistics published in March 2014 by Scotland’s Chief Statistician show that while the number of civil cases being heard at sheriff court level has been declining – down 10 per cent between 2011-12 and 2012-13, a 43 per cent drop since 2008-09, the number of civil cases being heard at the Court of Session has remained steady. Personal injury cases accounted for 79 per cent of cases raised in the General Department of Court of Session.


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