The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 6 February 2014.
The Bill seeks to implement recommendations contained in the Report of the Scottish Civil Courts Review (2009), which was led by Lord Gill. The Review concluded that the Scottish civil courts provide a service to the public which is “slow, inefficient and expensive” and recommended that “the court system has to be reformed both structurally and functionally”.
The Justice Committee is particularly interested in hearing your views on the provisions in the Bill relating to:
- an increase in the privative jurisdiction of the sheriff court from £5000 to £150,000;
- creation of a new judicial office of ‘summary sheriff’ to cover a more restricted range of civil and criminal matters;
- establishment of a specialist Scotland-wide court, expected to deal with personal injury cases;
- judicial specialisation;
- creation of a new Sheriff Appeal Court with the aim of reducing the number of criminal and civil appeals which require to be dealt with in the High Court and Inner House;
- changes to the way in which petitions for judicial review should be brought;
- creation of a new single set of rules for cases of £5,000 or less to be called ‘simple procedure’ and to be dealt with mainly be summary sheriffs;
- new procedures in relation to criminal and civil appeals; and
- transfer of the Tribunal Service into the Scottish Court Service to form one body – the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.
Further details on the Bill are contained in the Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes.
Justice Committee consideration
The Justice Committee expects to consider written submissions and to take evidence during March and April, before reporting on the Bill’s general principles towards the end of May. The Justice Committee invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The Committee’s first evidence session on the Bill will take place on 18 March 2014 and so it would be helpful to receive any written evidence by 5.00 pm on Thursday 13 March to feed into this session. (Please see the timetable for Stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill for details of witnesses for 18 March meeting.) However, the final deadline for submissions is 5.00 pm on Tuesday 18 March.
How to submit written evidence
Before making a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on the treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees.
Written submissions should normally be limited to around 4 sides of A4. Longer submissions should be accompanied by a short summary of the main points. Submissions should be set out in numbered paragraphs. Where the submission refers to existing published material, it is preferable to provide hyperlinks or full citations (rather than extensive extracts).
Anyone wishing their evidence to be treated confidentially should contact the Justice Committee clerking team at the email address or phone number below before submitting their evidence. It will then be for the Committee to decide whether or not to accept the submission on the basis that it will not be published (though it will be seen in full by the Committee). However, the Parliament is required to consider requests for information under freedom of information legislation and therefore cannot guarantee that the evidence will never be released.
The Committee welcomes written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language. If possible, written submissions should be submitted electronically (preferably in word processing format i.e. Microsoft Word or Apple Pages) by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hard copy written submissions should be sent to: Justice Committee Clerks, Room T2.60, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
Any queries about written submissions should be addressed in the first instance to the Justice Committee clerking team at the above email address or (0131) 348 5220.