STUC deeply disappointed at provisions of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill. Pledges to campaign for Stage 2 amendments to protect trade union members

February 7th 2014

Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said

“Having engaged constructively in the long process of review and consultation leading up to this Bill, STUC is both frustrated and deeply disappointed, that our two key concerns have been ignored by the Scottish Government.

“Having been initially led to believe that the reforms would allow victims the choice of having their case heard in the new specialist Personal Injury Court, we now understand that for many, possibly the majority, this facility will be denied. This despite the fact that UK Government legislation has fundamentally changed Health and Safety Law in a way which will complicate many of the workplace Personal Injury cases previously thought to be straight forward. We also anticipate major blockages in the system, and justice delayed is justice denied.

“STUC is also concerned that the combination of an increase in the threshold under which the sheriff court can deal with civil cases from £5,000 to £150,000 combined with the removal of the automatic right to counsel will allow significant inequality of arms issues to emerge. We will face the potential of trade unions being outgunned by the massive resources of the insurance industry and the big businesses they represent. We fail to see any other beneficiary from this measure which will save the courts little or no resource whilst rebalancing the civil justice system in favour of the powerful.

“At a time when STUC is engaging constructively in the referendum debate, it is deeply disappointing that existing powers are being used to the detriment of our members. We hope and believe that the Scottish Government will listen to STUC and others and agree to amendments to the Bill in due course.”

Patrick McGuire from Thompsons Solicitors one of Scotland’s leading law firms representing union members said

“We recognise the need for reform of the civil court service in Scotland to make the system more streamlined and cost effective. But we have very real concerns that some of the proposals in the bill will have no effect on reducing costs but will severely limit access to justice for ordinary working people. The justice system in Scotland must serve all people equally and not allow the scales to be tipped away from working people in favour of big insurance companies with their deep pockets”

ENDS

For further information contact Dave Moxham 0141 337 8100

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