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Introduction of “New Simple Procedure’ For Low Value Claims

On 28th November 2016, The Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) will launch a “New Simple Procedure” for claims with a value of up to £5,000.

The New Simple Procedure will be an online system and will apply to all claims but will initially exclude personal injury claims.  The inclusion of personal injury claims in the New Simple Procedure is expected to begin by Summer 2017.  The new procedure will replace the current Summary Cause and Small Claims procedures which are currently used in lower value claims. 

This is a radical new approach being taken by the courts, moving legal proceedings into an age where so much of our time is spent online.  With a readily accessible online system, Claimants will be able to start their action online, upload evidence, and crucially be able to see at a glance, how their claim is progressing. 

An added benefit of the Simple Procedure is that Sheriffs will be able to use alternative means of dealing with disputes rather than simply allocating a date for the parties to appear in court.  A sheriff can determine the best course of action based on the needs of the particular case.  This can be done instead by way case management discussions or a Sheriff can recommend alternative dispute resolution in an effort to have matters dealt with swiftly where the need for court time is not entirely necessary.

With that said, a word of warning in cases under the New Simple Procedure; a claimant must clearly and fully set out his case right from the outset.  He must fully explain the basis of his case and persuade the Sheriff that the claim has merit and ought to be considered by the court.  Equally, any response to a claim must be answered in as full and detailed a manner as possible.  Whilst simplifying procedures and making the courts more accessible to the public, the powers of the Court are not diluted and are not to be forgotten.  In cases where the Sheriff is of the opinion that there is no prospects of success in a claim or response, it can simply be dismissed without prior warning and such a dismissal can occur at any time.

The Act of Sederunt (Simple Procedure) 2016 can be found here.

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