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Ministers accept Taylor review findings

3 June 2014

Rules on funding and allocation of costs in civil litigation in Scotland should be reformed in line with the recommendations of the Taylor review, the Scottish Government announced today.

In its response to the report prepared by former Sheriff Principal James Taylor, the Government says it accepts the proposals as likely to make litigation more affordable and increase access to justice.

Sheriff Principal Taylor's 85 recommendations, published in September 2013, include allowing damages based agreements, where a solicitor's fee is calculated as a percentage of the damages awarded, new rules for speculative fee agreements, and, more controversially, qualified one-way costs shifting, which would allow recovery of costs against an unsuccessful pursuer only in limited circumstances.

On each of these, the Government accepts the recommendations, though anticipates taking "an incremental approach to implementation", undertaking formal further consultation where appropriate, for example, as part of the development of primary legislation.

Some issues, such as the recommendations dealing with sanction for counsel – the timing of motions and the criteria to be employed – ministers agree with the proposals but state that delivery falls within the powers and remit of the Scottish Civil Justice Council, through rules of court.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Having considered Sheriff Principal Taylor’s recommendations, I am convinced that they will go a long way to making the Scottish civil litigation system much more accessible to the people of Scotland. The current situation where the unpredictability of costs represents a barrier to justice is not acceptable.

“These improvements are part of a much wider series of reforms to our justice system to make it more effective and efficient for all parties involved, and ensure that disputes are resolved fairly and swiftly.

“We intend to introduce primary legislation at the earliest opportunity and I look forward to working with our partners across the justice system to bring these recommendations to a successful conclusion, ensuring that Scottish justice is, as it should be, accessible to all.”

Click here to view the full response.

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