About the Scottish Civil Justice Council
The Scottish Civil Justice Council was established on 28 May 2013 under the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Act 2013. It prepares draft rules of procedure for the civil courts and advises the Lord President on the development of the civil justice system in Scotland. The Scottish Civil Justice Council replaced the Court of Session Rules Council and the Sheriff Court Rules Council, taking over the rule drafting functions of those bodies and also has a wider role to advise and make recommendations on the civil justice system.
The creation of a single civil rules council for Scotland was one of the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review. Many of the review recommendations require new rules of court and the Scottish Civil Justice Council, which has oversight of the entire civil justice system, is responsible for taking these forward. The Council is also responsible for keeping the civil justice system under constant review.
Functions and powers
The Council’s functions include:
- keeping the civil justice system under review;
- reviewing the practice and procedure followed in the Court of Session and in civil proceedings in the Sheriff Appeal Court or the sheriff court;
- reviewing the practice and procedure followed in inquiry proceedings under the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc (Scotland) Act 2016;
- preparing and submitting to the Court of Session draft civil procedure rules, draft fees rules and draft inquiry procedure rules;
- advising and making recommendations on the development of and changes to the civil justice system in Scotland.
The Council has broad powers to help it carry out its functions, including the ability to make recommendations to the Scottish Ministers, conduct consultations and commission research. It is also able to take into account proposals for reform when preparing draft rules.
In carrying out its functions, the Council must have regard to the following principles:
- the civil justice system should be fair, accessible and efficient;
- rules relating to practice and procedure should be as clear and easy to understand as possible;
- practice and procedure in the civil courts should be as similar as possible, where appropriate; and
- alternative methods of dispute resolution should be promoted, where appropriate.