New Civil Sheriff Appeal Court set up in justice reforms

Parliament House
Image caption The Civil Sheriff Appeal Court will hear cases not escalated to the Court of Session

A new appeal court to examine disputed civil cases from Scotland's sheriff courts has been set up.

The new Civil Sheriff Appeal Court will hear appeals on civil cases from local courts which are typically less serious than those escalated to the Court of Session.

The move is part of a series of Scottish government reforms to ensure cases are heard in the right courts.

A similar appeal court for criminal cases was opened in September 2015.

The Criminal Sheriff Appeal Court ran into trouble after some solicitors vowed to boycott it over levels of legal aid fees.

A Sheriff Personal Injury Court and a Scottish Sentencing Council have also been set up in a bid to speed up the Scottish justice system.

'Unnecessary delays'

Community safety and legal affairs minister Paul Wheelhouse said the changes would help "reduce unnecessary delays".

He said: "We want to create a modern justice system that is fair, accessible and efficient and meets the needs of the people of Scotland. These reforms are a key part of our aims.

"The new Civil Sheriff Appeal Court will ensure that civil appeals are heard swiftly and efficiently at the appropriate level, reducing the number of such cases that require to be dealt with in the Court of Session."

Routine appeals from small claims and summary cases will be heard by a single sheriff at local courts, while more serious appeals requiring a bench of three appeal sheriffs will sit in Edinburgh.

The announcement was made on the same day Lord Carloway was officially installed as Lord President of the Court of Session, Scotland's most senior judge.

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