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Compensation Claims And Personal Injury Court

Compensation Claims And Personal Injury Court Jursdiction

In a decision of the court of session personal injury action the court has refused to remit a £25,000 damages action to the national personal injury court. The fact that a compensation claim was “small and straightforward” was not in itself enough to justify remitting the claim to the sheriff court given that the action had been commenced prior to the introduction of the new privitive jurisdiction limits.

The action was signetted at the Courg of Session on 14 September 2015, before the coming into force of section 39 of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 later in the month. That legislation raised the privative jurisdiction of the sheriff court in personal injury actions to £100,000.

In moving the motion counsel for the defender recognised that section 93 did not apply to the action since it had been raised before 22 September 2015, thus the motion proceeded under section 14 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1985 and the “old” Rules of Court 32(1). It was submitted that it would be “wrong to ignore” the existence of the new Sheriff Personal Injury Court. She said that this was in effect a “simple action” in relation to a personal injury claim arising from an accident which had occurred at work.

In opposing the motion counsel for the Pursuer submitted that the Sheriff Personal Injury Court was not in existence at the time the action was raised and it was therefore incompetent to remit the case to that court. His position was that the Court of Session could remit the case to a sheriff court, but not the all-Scotland personal injury court.

In a written opinion, Lord Boyd of Duncansby refused to remit the case. He stated: “In my opinion the motion before me is an attempt to effect a general redistribution of work. The effect of remit in this case would create uncertainty both for this pursuer and other pursuers in other actions currently before this court. It would give rise to unnecessary expense and delay.

“The fact that a claim is small and straightforward is not in itself enough to justify remit to the sheriff court. In this case it seems to me that the practical advantages are firmly with the pursuer and for me to grant the motion would deprive the pursuer of the choice of court which he has validly exercised. It would lead to procedural uncertainty as to how the case would proceed in the sheriff court and may lead to delay and further costs.”

In effect, to have granted the motion would have extended the scope of the new legislation in a way that was not intended and would have denied the pursuer to make the choice of court he was entitled to. Had the motion been granted it could also have led to floodgates being opened to insurers seeking to remit cases from the Court of Session in an attempt to reduce expenses of litigation in recently raised Personal Injury actions. It seems that the presiding judge recognised that as well as the detrimental practical implications that could have followed for the courts generally and in personal injury claims in particular.

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