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SCC plans Coulsfield Report

1 July 04

Lord Coulsfield is to head an advisory group in a Scottish Consumer Council initiative to explore the need to modernise Scotland's civil justice system

Retired judge Lord Coulsfield is to head an advisory group which will oversee a major new initiative being launched in Scotland to explore the need to modernise the country’s civil justice system.

Led by the Scottish Consumer Council, supported by a grant from the Nuffield Foundation, the initiative will focus on a series of seminars which will discuss the current system, examine critically the case for change and establish the degree of consensus about what change can and should be made. A report will recommend the best way forward.

The group will commission papers on the key issues to be addressed, drawing from best practice in other jurisdictions.  

The civil justice system should not be distant and difficult to use, Lord Coulsfield said. “We are prepared to examine proposals for reform, however radical. There are fundamental questions that need to be addressed. If we could design the system from scratch – what would it look like? Would we base it on the traditional court system or develop a different method? What kinds of processes are best for solving disputes, who should pay and who should enforce decisions? These are the kind of issues that we will be examining with the object of developing the kind of consensus which will make practical and useful reform possible.”

The members of the advisory group are: Laura Dunlop QC, Faculty of Advocates; Martyn Evans, Scottish Consumer Council; Colin Lancaster, Scottish Legal Aid Board; Valerie Macniven, Scottish Executive Justice Department; Rory Mair, COSLA; Iain McMillan, CBI Scotland; Susan McPhee, Citizens’ Advice Scotland; Gordon Nicholson QC, former Sheriff Principal of Lothian and Borders; Professor Alan Paterson, University of Strathclyde; Bill Speirs, STUC; and George Way, Law Society of Scotland. The group will also include a representative of the Sheriffs’ Association.