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Policy

Civil courts

Overview

Civil disputes cover important and urgent issues like debt, divorce and access to children. So we need a system where people can sort out their problems quickly and fairly.

Actions

We are:

  • introducing phase 2 of Simple Procedure, a court process designed to be an affordable quick, and informal way to settle civil disputes that involve sums of £5,000 or less
  • increasing access to justice by introducing the Civil Litigation Bill which aims to: make the costs of court action more predictable, increase the funding options for people pursuing civil actions, and introduce a greater level of equality to the funding relationship between pursuers and defenders in personal injury cases
  • implementing legislation to make the devolved tribunals system more understandable and user-friendly.

Background

We introduced a programme of reform to the structures and processes of Scotland’s justice system following a 2009 independent review of Scotland’s civil courts.

The review, by Lord Gill, now the Lord President of the Court of Session, found that the system was ‘slow, inefficient and expensive’, and made a number of recommendations.

We responded to the review in November 2010, and accepted the majority of Lord Gill’s recommendations, including:

  • establishing a Civil Justice Council for Scotland
  • a new national Sheriff Appeal Court and Personal Injury Court
  • modernisation of civil court procedures

The 2012 Strategy for Justice in Scotland set out our approach to make the Scottish justice system fit for the 21st century.

We published Justice in Scotland: vision and priorities in 2017. It builds on the outcomes set out in the 2012 strategy.

Bills and legislation

The Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 sets the framework for implementing the main recommendations of Lord Gill’s review.

Contact

Courts, Judicial Appointments Policy and Central Authority
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG
walter.drummond-murray@govscot