News In Focus
Pursuer's offer rules to be introduced in Scottish courts
Pursuers seeking a financial award in the Scottish courts will from next month be able to put forward a formal offer in settlement, and defenders will be penalised if they delay unnecessarily in accepting, under new rules just published.
The rules will apply in the Court of Session and in sheriff court ordinary procedure in any case with a financial crave or conclusion, apart from those that cannot be granted without evidence. They require the offer to be made in a specified form, and allow this to happen at any time before the stage at which a court considers its decision or a jury its verdict.
Their effect is that where a defender delays unnecessarily in accepting a pursuer’s offer, or fails to accept an offer to settle at a sum no greater than is ultimately awarded, the co "must, except on cause shown", award the pursuer interest on any sum awarded from the date on which the offer was made, together with "a sum corresponding to half the fees allowed on taxation of the pursuer’s account of expenses, in so far as those fees are attributable to the relevant period, or in so far as they can reasonably be attributed to that period".
The Lord President, Lord Carloway, who chairs the Scottish Civil Justice Council which prepares the rules, commented: “Court rules have an important role to play in promoting and encouraging early settlement of cases. Under these rules, a defender who chooses not to accept a pursuer’s offer risks incurring a penalty if that decision proves to have been ill judged. As with judicial tenders, the lodging of a well pitched pursuer’s offer will therefore provide a strong inducement to settle.”
Developed by the SCJC's Costs & Funding Committee, the rules will be introduced on 3 April. The applicable tables of fees have been amended to include the fees for making and considering pursuers’ offers.
Click here to view the new rules, and here for the new fees rules.