The question of a raise in the limits in small claims actions from the £750 it has been for the past 18 years, to a proposed £1500 has long been on the cards .. but why the big delay ?
What could be holding up the issue of a rise in the limit of damanges you could claim in a small claims action against the likes of a crooked builder, or even a crooked lawyer ?
Just why, should the limit for small claims in Scottish Law, be restricted to £750, which it has been for 18 years, when in England & Wales, the limit is £5000 and has been since 1999 ?
It's all about the control freakery of the Scottish legal profession - wishing to protect it's business and restrict who gets into court on what types of cases.
It's not about honesty, it's about the corrupt power politics of the legal profession. and a few of it's allies in high places, which is holding up the progress of the rise in limits of small claims actions ... and those prominent in the obstruction of this issue progressing further, in the public interest, is Digby Brown Solicitors, and Thompsons.
Digby Brown are well known for their political affiliations, particularly to the Labour Party, where former partners such as Douglas Alexander sit in Government .. and many other former partners have attained promotion to Sheriff under in some instances, what could be called, questionable circumstances ...
A more little known issue relating to some of the partners of Digby Brown .. is the partners complaints records .. where it seems some of those at the firm, have had very serious client complaints made against them .. which of course, have been whitewashed by the Law Society of Scotland ... strange it may seem, that some partners who have been accused of various actions against clients, including things which would see ordinary people locked away for a spell in jail, would go on to be Sheriffs ... judging others who have been up to the same thing .. but who haven't had the advantage of their own regulatory body to wipe their records clean and bury evidence & client complaints against them ...
Some of the other opponents of higher limits to small claims, include trade unions, who have been invagled into the debate against giving the consumer more power in this area, alleging that more radical redress would deny legal redress to thousands of Scots by taking them out of the legal aid net.
What legal aid net is that ? Try and make any kind of a claim against the likes of a crooked accountant, a crooked lawyer or another crooked professional, and ask for legal aid, invariably, the claimaint will have their chances of legal aid ruined by that professional's governing body. The Law Society of Scotland are pretty famous in this regard .. and many other regulatory bodies ensure that most damages claims made against their members which require legal aid .. are killed off.
The lawyers may argue that it will take people out of the legal aid net - that's rubbish. Anyone who has a controversial claim and needs legal aid - gets their application for legal aid challenged by the lawyers & their allies - and the case never makes it to the court ... plenty examples of that - and remember, even the Scottish Legal Aid Board is staffed by solicitors who are members of the Law Society of Scotland - and some of those lawyers over at SLAB are pretty crooked themselves ... having on-the-side meetings with crooked lawyers & legal firms whose names appear in negligence actions of clients making applications for legal aid funding.
I think we all need to campaign on this issue, and ensure the limit for small claims in Scotland matches the rest of the UK.
Don't listen to those parrots of the legal profession & their allies, telling us it's better for Scotland to have a small limit on the small claims process. That's nonsense. All this does is restrict who can get into court on such cases, and keep most of the business for the lawyers.
Scottish law is certainly not better than English law.
We have to get this idiocy out of our system here in Scotland.
Simply being told that Scots law is better than English law by a bunch of crooked lawyers and their allies, doesn't make it so, and time & again, we have seen that anyone who tries to take on big business or crooked professions who have their own powerful self regulatory bodies in Scotland, get nowhere. So, where is the great Scots law then ? - nowhere.
Read on for the bitter struggle ofconsumer organisations & campaigners seeking increases in the limits of small claims in line with the rest of the UK, while the selfish, corrupt, Scottish legal profession put the brakes on yet more reforms designed to help the consumer, keeping limits of small claims in line with it's own interests, protecting it's own business empire and ensuring only those get to court who don't pose a threat to it.
Link from The Herald, at : http://www.theherald.co.uk/business/69760.html
Higher threshold for small claims is still a long way off
PAUL ROGERSON September 11 2006
The prospect of a long-promised increase in Scotland's low threshold for small claims before next year's Holyrood elections appears remote. Deputy justice minister Hugh Henry last week declined the opportunity to pledge he will produce proposals to raise the current £750 limit before the polls in May.
By then it will be two years since Henry promised to act "sooner rather than later" and eight years since the justice minister recommended that the limit be lifted to £1500.
Scottish consumer groups continue to despair that for people wanting compensation from a supplier of shoddy goods or services without the expense of hiring a lawyer the effective maximum is £750 – less than the cost of a plasma TV.
That limit has been frozen for 18 years, whereas in England and Wales the small claims ceiling is £5000 and has been since 1999.
Consumer body Which? describes the current system as a "charter for cowboys" and has come across examples of Scots pursuing their cases in the English courts.
So why the inertia? Is this yet another example of the daunting power of the lawyers' lobby?
Perhaps not. Opponents of higher limits, which include trade unions, allege that more radical redress would deny legal redress to thousands of Scots by taking them out of the legal aid net.
"The issue is not about whether there should be an increase but what the levels should increase to," Henry told The Herald. "I accept that progress has not been speedy but we want to get this right. We also want to ensure that any changes have the clear support of Parliament. We have to look for a balance between the level of claim and the number of people able to access justice. Quite simply, the higher the small claims limit is set, fewer litigants will qualify for legal aid – because legal aid is not payable in small claims. This is not an easy balance to strike."
Among those in frequent contact with the Justice Department on the issue have been the personal injury firms Digby Brown and Thompsons, both of which have had close links with the Labour Party and trade unions and are or have been party donors.
Personal injury claims are to be excluded from increases in the small claims threshold if and when the executive acts. This is good news for firms specialising in this area, which will in consequence be able to continue reclaiming their expenses, a state of affairs which makes 'no-win, no fee' cases a paying proposition.
In the small claims court, expenses are capped at £75.
Henry said: "Exclusion of PI actions from small claims has been executive policy for some considerable time.
This was the stated policy when the subject was debated in the Parliament in 2001, when Jim Wallace MSP was Justice Minister."
He added: "PI actions are often complex to pursue and to prove, both legally and because there is often a need to obtain and rely on medical evidence to establish a case. Small claims procedure is designed to be quick and efficient, encouraging resolution of disputes without the involvement of lawyers and without legal aid being available. For that reason expenses are capped at £75.
"Small claims can often be a useful means of pursuing relatively straightforward disputes over, say, defective consumer goods. PI actions are very different and are not always appropriate for the more informal procedures which are suitable for small claims. For those reasons we accept that an exception should be made for PI actions."
Digby Brown and Thompsons have continued to lobby the executive on the issue of small claims, even though it is understood that the exclusion of PI cases has long been a done deal.
Thompsons' Patrick McGuire said: "We totally accept the logic of increasing small claims limits for consumer cases like a row over a plasma screen TV. But personal injury claims must be excluded from any increase or the right to justice of millions of trade union and other injury victims will be destroyed.
"Personal injury legislation is a hugely complex area of the law which must be heard in the Court of Session to ensure consistency and justice. Unless personal injury claims are excluded they would end up being heard in the lower courts and that would lead to inconsistency and massively undermine the protection health and safety legislation provides for trade union members and other workers.
"It is simply nonsense to suggest that there is any correlation between the level of damages and the complexity or importance of the legal issues involved in personal injury claims."
"If small claims limits are raised, Scotland must follow England's example where the limit is £5000 but personal injury cases are excluded."
Digby Brown could not be reached for comment.