A new civil procedure for low value claims has come into force in Scotland. From 28 November 2016 monetary claims with a value of £5,000 or less will require to be raised using the Simple Procedure. The rules do not currently apply to certain types of claims, such as personal injury claims.
The Simple Procedure rules aim to make it easier for party litigants who seek recourse in the Courts to raise a court action. The rules and court forms are written in plain language and are designed to be user friendly and accessible to all.
An online civil case management system, Civil Online, is planned for introduction in early 2017 to enable Simple Procedure actions to be raised, tracked and progressed online. Once up and running Civil Online will be accessible via the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website.
Part 1 of the Rules sets out the principles of Simple Procedure which include resolution of cases as soon as possible at the least expense to parties and the courts, that the process is to be as informal as appropriate, and parties are to be encouraged to settle their disputes by negotiation or use of alternative dispute resolution.
Amongst the changes is that no automatic hearing will be fixed once a response to the claim has been received. Instead once a Response Form has been lodged, a sheriff must within two weeks of receipt of the Response Form issue ‘first written orders’. The first written orders can do one of five things: (1) refer parties to alternative dispute resolution, (2) arrange a case management discussion, (3) arrange a hearing, (4) indicate that they are considering making a decision without a hearing if the sheriff thinks a such a decision could be made, and (5) use the sheriff’s powers to dismiss the claim.
In terms of expenses, a new Table of Fees has been introduced for Simple Procedure actions. However like the previous Small Claims rules a limit on the award of expenses has been introduce for claims valued at £3,000 or less [The Sheriff Court Simple Procedure (Limits on Award of Expenses) Order 2016]. The limits are as follows:
(1) No award of expenses will be made in a claim of £200 or less;
(2) For a claims over £200 up to £1,500 expenses will be a maximum of £150; and
(3) For claims over £1,500 up to £3,000 expenses will be awarded at 10% of the value of the claim.
The new Simple Procedure rules and forms can be found here: