Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee backs changes to personal injuries claims legislation

Written by Jenni Davidson on 22 December 2017 in News

Holyrood’s Justice Committee has back changes proposed in the Scottish Government’s Civil Litigation Bill

Scottish Parliament windows - Image credit: Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has unanimously backed proposals to change the costs for people bringing a civil claim to court in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s Civil Litigation Bill proposes improving access to civil justice through a range of measures, including regulating ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, to make the costs that a person will pay to their own solicitor more predictable.

The legislation also means that most people who bring a personal injury claim won’t have to pay the defenders’ costs, even if they lose the case – those costs will be met by the defender regardless of the outcome.

In addition, the bill will allow group proceedings to be brought in Scotland for the first time.

However, although it backed the general principles, the committee has said the Scottish Government must commit to reviewing the law in practice.

In particular, it wants the Scottish Government to reassess concerns that the changes may lead to a rise in fraudulent claims or a compensation culture.

The committee also wants to see changes to the bill that provide more safeguards for people when a solicitor takes on their case through a no win, no fee arrangement.

Moreover, the Justice Committee is urging the Scottish Government not to bring the new law into force until claims management firms in Scotland are regulated. 

Justice Committee convener Margaret Mitchell MSP said: “This bill will directly affect the rights of many thousands of people in Scotland, and seeks to remove some of the barriers which have prevented individuals accessing civil justice

“Finding redress through the courts is a fundamental aspect of the justice system.

“The Justice Committee’s scrutiny of this legislation will help to ensure that process is as straightforward and free from pitfalls as possible.

“The committee welcomes the open approach the Scottish Government has taken during stage 1 scrutiny of the bill to address outside concerns.

“In supporting the general principles of the bill, the committee has made a number of detailed recommendations in its Stage 1 report suggesting ways in which the bill should be improved.

“The committee hopes the Scottish Government will be open minded to these recommendations as well.”

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