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Patrick McGuire, PartnerWith plans in place to bring Britain’s first specialist personal injury court to Edinburgh with it, unsurprisingly, comes the question of whether or not this has been driven by a culture of compensation.

The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is unequivocally no. The idea that we live in a ‘compensation culture’ is one which has been created to put people off claiming and essentially save insurance companies money.

If people have a valid reason to be making a claim they have the right to do this through the best possible system and introducing a specialist court in theory, should be a positive step forward.

The court will employ specialist sheriffs, dealing solely with personal injury claims, and will hear cases from all over Scotland. The idea was among a number of proposals published in a report by Lord Gill in 2009. A public consultation looking at draft legislation to bring forward the remaining proposals is due to be launched in November.

While the notion that this development is driven by a ‘compensation culture’ is way off the mark there are wider complications around that need to be considered. For example, will claimants have an automatic right to counsel in a specialist court? How would such a court impact on the remaining proposals introduced in Lord Gill and which of these will drive legislative change?

While I am giving a cautious welcome to a specialist personal injury court we can’t ignore that fact that there are changes ahead which could prove good or bad for the personal injury market. It is hoped all will become clear with the publication of the much anticipated consultation document, which could be on our desks in just a matter of weeks.  

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