Thumbs Up.

Monday, September 17th, 2007 @ 10:30AM

I’m really pleased to see Kenny MacAskill extend the thresholds on small claims limits (full details below.) It’s something I’ve felt strongly about for a very long time. In my experience as a Welfare Officer, it’s proved to be a pretty powerful tool, empowering people to take dodgy landlords to court and also to get unfair bank charges back…

Although less complicated and intimidating than most other court actions, it’s still a pretty tricky process and it’s essential that there are adequate advice services available to people not only to help them through the process - but to ensure that they know that it exists in the first place!

So, big thumbs up to the Justice Minister for getting on with the job - I just hope that his SNP friends in the council don’t ruin this progress by cutting funding for their various advice services.

* * * * *

S3W-4224 - Nigel Don (North East Scotland) (SNP) (Date Lodged 11 September 2007) : To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to increase the sheriff court jurisdiction limits.

Answered by Kenny MacAskill (12 September 2007): The Small Claims (Scotland) Amendment Order 2007 was laid in Parliament on 12 September 2007. It raises the small claims limit from £750 to £3,000 and provides that actions for personal injury are excluded from the category of actions which must be brought as a small claim. I recognise that the considerations are often different in personal injury cases where victims need legal support, for example to understand medical reports which are often needed. The small claims court is not suited to help those involved in personal injury litigation. It is in recognition of that fact that such cases will be removed from the small claims procedure.

The order also amends the amount of expenses which the sheriff may award in a small claim where the value of the claim exceeds £200. The sheriff may now, where the value of the claim is £1,500 or less, award expenses up to £150. Where the value of the claim is greater than £1,500, the sheriff may award expenses up to 10% of the value of the claim. The order does not affect any small claim which was commenced prior to the order coming into force.

We plan to present The Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1971 (Privative Jurisdiction and Summary Cause) Order 2007 to the Privy Council at its next meeting on 10 October 2007. The order raises the limit of the privative (or exclusive) jurisdiction of the sheriff court and the limit of the summary cause from £1,500 to £5,000. The new limits do not apply to proceedings commenced before the order comes into force. The effect of this is that the ordinary cause rules will apply in cases of a value exceeding £5,000.

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