Media Release: A less adversarial justice system for changing needs of society

A REFORMED civil justice system that meets the needs of a rapidly changing society and economy should be a priority for the next Scottish Government – says the Law Society of Scotland.

In the final week before the Holyrood elections, the Society has highlighted the need for reform to the civil justice system to ensure a quicker and more efficient system.

In the Society’s manifesto for 2011, a reform to the civil justice system was identified as a key area for development. In research for its manifesto, the Society held a number of discussion evenings with local stakeholders including charities, universities, businesses and voluntary organisations to identify the needs of the wider civic community in relation to the legal system.

Jamie Millar president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “There is a clear demand for a less adversarial system, with more informal approaches. Mediation could be an option in some instances. Medical negligence cases are just one example of where this new approach may be more appropriate and effective.

“Similarly the planning system was highlighted during our manifesto discussion evenings, as another area where proper and structured mediation has the potential to provide a quicker and better solution. Increasing demands on the justice system present a significant challenge at a time of major reductions in public spending.

“As a result, we have called for the recommendations made by Lord Gill in his review of the civil courts to be taken forward, including the separation of civil and criminal cases in the Sheriff Court and the appointment of District Judges to deal with summary crime and low value civil cases.

“I’m very pleased that Scotland’s politicians are listening to our proposals and to see that this policy has been echoed in the justice manifestos of some of the main political parties.”

Mr Millar added: “It was clear from our discussion evenings with stakeholders that the justice system is seen as both the lubrication that allows society to operate effectively and the glue that helps hold it together. It is therefore important to ensure we have a civil justice system that meets the needs of a changing society.”

ENDS    20 APRIL 2011

Notes to editors

Please visit the website to download a copy of the Society’s manifesto:

Gill Review: The review itself made over 206 separate recommendations for reform, which were broadly endorsed by the current Scottish Government in November 2010.

The Gill Review identified a series of structural and other weaknesses currently affecting Scotland’s civil courts. The changes, many of which were radical in nature, would dramatically alter the delivery of civil justice in Scotland.

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Contact: Emily Young
Phone: 0131 476 8154