Last month, the Scottish Courts Reform Bill was passed by MSPs and has now been given Royal Assent. This means that the new law is now in effect, making the civil justice system more accessible and reducing costs for claimants.

Royal Assent is given to a bill after all the parliamentary stages have been completed and is done by the Queen formally agreeing to the bill becoming an Act of Parliament (law).

With this new law in place, civil cases can be dealt with by sheriffs for up to £100,000. This is a huge increase as previously any cases over £5,000 had to be taken to the Court of Session.

The Court of Session will now be able to centre its attention on more complex cases as a new specialist court will be set up designed specifically for personal injury claims. A national Sheriff Appeal court will also be established.

In addition, under the new law there will be specialist sheriffs assigned to specific cases regarding family, housing, personal injury and commercial law.

The aims of the new legislation are to improve Scotland’s courts which were described as “slow, inefficient and expensive” by Lord Gill, lord president of the Court of Session. It has been announced by Lord Gill that Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen will be appointed president of the new Sheriff Appeal Court and Sheriff Principal Craig Scott as vice-president.

He said:

"These reforms will safeguard the integrity of Scots law by creating an efficient court structure. Every case will be heard by the appropriate court. The system will be accessible and cost-effective for the litigant. My colleagues and I in the review team are grateful to the Scottish Parliament for having passed into law almost all of our recommendations."


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