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Protective Expenses Orders
Proposals for a costs capping scheme in cases challenging decisions by public authorities which impact on the environment were today published in a Scottish Government consultation.
The usual rule in civil cases is that the 'loser pays'. These proposals would cap the amount of legal costs that a challenger would have to pay the other side, if they lose, at £5,000. This is balanced by a proposal to introduce a similar cap - of £30,000 - on the defending party's liability to pay the challenger's legal costs.
The proposals as a whole are designed to provide access to justice in environmental cases within a robust legislative framework which allows public bodies to make decisions with confidence.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said:
"The Scottish Government is committed to affordable access to justice in cases of importance, including where environmental issues are at stake.
"Challenges to these decisions can, however, have significant impacts on the economy. We are determined to ensure that major planning and infrastructure decisions are not unreasonably delayed.
"The proposals we are consulting upon therefore seek to achieve a fair balance between the costs to persons wishing to challenge these decisions and the potential implications for economic development.
"I hope all those with an interest will assist with the development of further policy in this area by responding to the consultation."
The findings of this consultation will be presented to the Court of Session Rules Council to assist the Lord President in developing Rules of Court. The consultation closes on April 3, 2012.