Sherriff Courts will now be able to hear cases for claims valued up to £100,000


Insurers are set to benefit from a cut in legal fees after reforms to the Scottish legal system.

A review of the way civil claims are handled, led by Lord Gill, has led to a series of changes that will improve efficiencies and reduce costs in Scottish courts.

Under the reforms, the Scottish supreme court, the Court of Sessions, will no longer deal with cases under £100,000 unless they involve a complex point of law.

Instead, Sherriff Courts will hear cases valuedat between £5,000 and £100,000, up from the previous £5,000 limit, and Summary Sherriffs will be introduced to deal with cases under £5,000.

The existing Sherriff Courts will also be changed to handle specific types of cases depending on the specialism of the Sherriff of that court.

DAC Beachcroft senior partner Gilbert Anderson said this will see a lot of personal injury and other insurance claims move down to the Sherriff Courts.

“The idea is to have fewer, but bigger, cases in the Court of Sessions where judges can spend most of their time on the complex cases of high value and importance,” he said. “A lot of the cases they would have handled will go down to the Sherriff Courts, and will have specialist Sherriffs handling them.”

Anderson said that the changes will help reduce delays and costs.

“The court structure in Scotland was in need of radical change,” he said. “The problems manifested themselves in huge delays and a delay in any legal or justice system causes expense.

“Scotland was almost unique in not having a coherent hierarchical structure in its court system, so people could choose which court to sue in – a Sheriff Court or the Court of Sessions. This led to lots of straightforward motor cases, particularly whiplash cases, being raised in our supreme court, and that generated huge disproportionate expense.”

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