E.P.I.C. REFORM FOR SCOTLAND’S PERSONAL INJURY CASES
The Edinburgh Personal Injury Court (known as the Sheriff Personal Injury Court (SPIC)) was established on September 22, 2015 and was brought about by Lord Gill’s recommendations from the Scottish Civil Court Review in 2009. These new procedures are available to all Scottish Solicitors as well as individuals raising an action on their own behalf. Now, people living in any part of Scotland will be able to decide whether to bring their case to their local Sheriff Court or to the national Sheriff Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh.
The SPIC will have jurisdiction over actions for damages arising from personal injuries (or the death of a person) where the sum sought is £5,000 or more, or £1,000 or more where the proceedings concern a work accident. Actions under these amounts can still be referred to the SPIC if they are deemed to be of a specialised or complex nature. The Court of Session will now only hear personal injury claims for £100,000 or more while the exclusive competence of the Sheriff Court has increased to £100,000.
Another benefit of the SPIC is the introduction of technology in order to process cases more swiftly and efficiently. The intimation and submission of motions and interlocutors can now be emailed directly to the clerks of court. Agents can also lodge a Personal Injury Action Settled (PIAS) form by email when the action has settled. This alleviates the need for agents to appear at a hearing after the parties have reached an agreement, for the sole purpose of discharging the proof.
The appointment of the specialist sheriffs follows a direction from the Lord President under the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. It determined that actions of damages for, or arising from, personal injuries or the death of a person from personal injuries are a category of case that is considered to be suited to being dealt with by sheriffs that specialise in that category of case.
The six specialist sheriffs that have been appointed to the SPIC are: Sheriff Paul Arthurson QC, Sheriff Peter Braid, Sheriff Gordon Liddle, Sheriff Kathrine Mackie, Sheriff Kenneth McGowan and Sheriff Fiona Reith QC. This group of specialised sheriffs should lead to a more consistent approach and efficient disposal of cases which will establish a strong body of common law for personal injury actions.
Jury trials are now available in the new SPIC. Jurys can be used tactically where it is believed that they may be influential in increasing the amount of compensation awarded in the case. This could prove to be a deciding factor when determining whether to raise an action in the Sheriff Court or in the SPIC.
To SPIC or not to SPIC?
People will now have to decide whether to raise an action in the Sheriff court or the new SPIC. With many benefits such as specialist judges, the option of a jury trial, and use of technology to swiftly and efficiently dispose of cases, it sounds like it will be a very attractive option for people raising a personal injury action.
- All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court with National Jurisdiction. Scottish Court Service, 2015. Web. <https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/the-courts/sheriff-court/personal-injury-court>.
- Personal Injury Specialist Sheriffs Appointed. Justiciary of Scotland, 2015. Web. <http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/25/1470/Personal-Injury-Specialist-Sheriffs-Appointed>.
- Scottish Court Reform – What insurers need to know. Karen Stachura, BTO Solicitors, 25 June 2015. Web. < http://www.bto.co.uk/blog/scottish-court-reform-%E2%80%93-what-insurers-need-to-know.aspx>.
Author: Mallorie Sullivan, LLB, Dip LP.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm.View all →