Radical changes to the Scottish court system will transform the litigation process of personal injury claims in Scotland.
The Courts Reform (Scotland) 2014 Act will alter the number of low value personal injury compensation claims heard by the Court of Session and transfer some cases to the Sheriff Court.
Currently, the Court of Session processes all personal injury cases with a value of £5,000 or more.
Claims for compensation below this figure are handled by the Sheriff Court.
As the cost of litigation in the Court of Session can be much higher than in the Sheriff Court, there can be significant disparities between the sums of compensation awarded and the cost of pursuing a claim.
In an effort to address disproportionate legal costs in relation to the value of a personal injury claim, the Courts Reform Act has increased the worth of personal injury claims to be heard in the Court of Session to £100,000 or more.
The result will see far more claims processed via the Sheriff Court, where litigation costs are lower and more in proportion to the value of a claim.
From September 2015, a specialist Personal Injury Court will also be established which will exclusively hold jury trials for personal injury actions.
The Court will also seek to simplify the legal procedure for claims valued at £5,000 or below.
With further changes to the funding of personal injury litigation also in discussion, this year could prove to be a challenging time for Scotland's legal system.