The controversial Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill introduced by Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, on 6 February 2014 continues to receive criticism – and not just from Scotland’s personal injury lawyers.
The Bill, which enacts the recommendations of Lord Gill's review of the civil court system in Scotland, proposes the creation of a Specialist Personal Injury Court as well as an increase in the limit of private jurisdiction in the Court of Session from £5000 to £150,000.
Such proposals have caused great concern, not least to Scotland’s personal injury lawyers, many of whom appose the changes. It seems now that members of the public are also concerned.
In a letter to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Kenny Macaskill, Bute resident, Catherine Adam, requests that the Bill not be passed.
Mrs Adam, cared for her brother, Robert Lawson, who died after contracting an asbestos-related illness while working in a contaminated hospital.
In her letter, which was published in Buteman, Mrs Adam raised concerns with regards to obtaining justice without an advocate. She wrote:
“The proposal by the Scottish Government that all cases with a value of less than £150,000 be excluded from the Court of Session and dealt with by the Sheriff Courts and/or a new layer of District Court will affect 95% of asbestos related disease claims.
“Cases dealt with in the Sheriff Court system will not automatically be entitled to have the services of Advocates and Solicitor Advocates as they do in the Court of Session.
“Special permission will have to be sought from the Judge to have the fees of the Advocates paid for, there will be no guarantee that this will be granted.”
In addition to receiving the letter from Mrs Adam, it is understood Phyllis Craig, chairwoman of support group Clydeside Action on Asbestos, is due to discuss her concerns regarding the Bill to Holyrood's justice committee in the coming days.
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