Proposed legislation continues to be considered in the Scottish Parliament which would make major changes to the way personal injury claims would be pursued, particularly if a court action had to be pursued in a claim.
The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings)(Scotland) Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government in June 2017. The Bill follows a major review which concluded in 2013, which looked at all questions of costs associated with court actions. As with the review itself, the Bill has particular provisions about court actions for personal injury claims. For many years, a major concern has been what is often termed the “David and Goliath” situation – where an individual injured claimant (pursuer) is faced with pursuing a court action against an opponent who is backed by a major, well-resourced, insurance company.
The terms of the Bill seek to address that imbalance. One of the proposals is to introduce a concept called “one-way cost shifting”. If introduced into law, that would reduce significantly any cost risk on those pursuing injury claims through the courts.
The Bill continues to be scrutinised by the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament. The committee has heard evidence from representatives of organisations representing injured claimants as well as from the insurance industry and the legal professions regulatory bodies. There are further evidence sessions scheduled.
The Bill is a welcome attempt to make major improvements to access to justice for victims of injury and we are monitoring closely the progress of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament.