Reshaping civil justice in Scotland: a bold vision of the future

United Kingdom

Today’s consumers expect services to be user friendly - swift, responsive, automated, available anywhere, and accessible via multiple platforms. As part of the ongoing process of reform of the Scottish civil justice system, the Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC) has announced plans to reshape the form and structure of court rules. The  Chair of the Council, Lord Carloway described the task as ambitious but necessary: “to build a civil justice system which makes more sense to someone born at the turn of the millennium than to someone born in the previous two centuries.”

Highlights from the report

The SCJC’s report sets out its initial thoughts on the overarching principles of civil justice and how best to reshape the form and structure of court rules, including:

  • The adoption of a guiding principle for civil procedure.  This would bring Scotland into line with a number of other countries, including England & Wales.  The SCJC considers that the statement of principle should appear at the beginning of the Rules, and have as its core consideration the doing of substantial justice between the parties, having regard to efficiency and proportionate cost. The principle should be taken into account by judges in managing cases and parties must assist them in respecting it.
  • The availability of expedited fast-track and case-managed procedures, available for all cases. 

  • Any party (not solely pursuers) should be able to seek summary disposal of a case before the Court of Session. 
  • Electronic interaction with the courts should be the norm, except where the court orders otherwise. The introduction of online, shared, editable pleadings is being considered.
  • A new online system of parallel blind bidding, for the settlement of actions.

Get Involved

Over summer 2017, the SCJC will visit locations across Scotland to discuss and seek  input upon the proposals. More information on dates, venues and speakers will be published soon.

In the meantime, you can contact the SCJC at scjc@scotcourts.gov.uk to submit your views and queries.