Core recently responded to the consultation on a proposed Scottish Civil Justice Council.
We expressed the view that this proposal seems to be an essential component in delivering an effective system of dispute resolution in Scotland in the future.
We said that having a broad-based policy group, able to analyse and make recommendations about how to enhance the delivery of civil justice and, in a wider sense, resolution of disputes in Scotland, could help to make a significant difference to economic performance generally, make Scotland a more attractive location to do business and to resolve disputes and address much needed changes within the present system in a holistic way. Otherwise, Scotland may continue to lose business through the lack of a modern dispute resolution system.
We suggested that civil justice needs to be defined more broadly or the Council specifically established to include a wider remit, where consideration of preventative and other non-court dispute resolution measures are part of its principal scope, not just an adjunct. The appropriate role of the courts would be one of a number of topics within its remit. There is a need to examine more broadly the (financial and other) effectiveness of civil justice and the role of courts and the effectiveness (alongside, and separate from, courts) of other processes and measures which are well established in Scotland and elsewhere. This body could do so and place the court process and civil litigation – and dispute resolution in society generally – within a broader context.
We offered these comments against a background of some considerable experience of the very significant and often quite disproportionate time and cost incurred by many litigants in Scotland who find themselves within the civil litigation system. We sense that this will only be alleviated by a re-focus of the broader dispute resolution system away from litigation towards other more appropriate measures, such as mediation, for the majority of matters which at present come before the courts, although are not actually adjudicated upon. The result should be a more efficient and cost-effective litigation system.