Taylor Review consultation on costs of justice aims to tackle widespread evidence that litigation in Scottish courts is expensive, exclusive & unproductive. GOING TO COURT is like being taken to the cleaners, whether its down to the fees of your own solicitors, the fees of the other side’s legal team or the court’s fees. No matter how you word the dreaded ‘access to justice’ equation, going to court in Scotland is a bit of a rip-off. There is no escaping the fact that justice, and access to it, is, with ample evidence, widely perceived to be the domain of the rich, vested interests, someone who can slip a judge a benefit on the side, or the ones who know how to bend legal aid rules to pick up public funds for taking on cases for convicted rapists, murderers & fraudsters which make the rest of the nation sick.
Put it this way, if you’ve ever had the feeling a serial child murderer stands a better chance of obtaining access to court & millions in taxpayer funded legal aid for a dispute over prison rights, as opposed to your own court case involving claim against a swindler who stole your investments, a lawyer who ruined a will or took your house, a medial professional who committed negligence or who caused a death in your family, or some other professional who, through their actions ruined your life and then kept on ruining your life in some kind of vendetta, you are in the right country. It all happens here, every week of every month of every year.
Those of you who attempt to pursue a case through Scotland’s antiquated “Victorian” court system to gain ‘justice’ simply end up joining a queue of thousands of people who walk in & out of Scotland’s revolving door courts system each year achieving nothing more than lining the pockets of the legal profession, the courts, & the judge who sits there on a £200K plus salary, managing an occasional grumble or mumble in some kind of inaudible verbal abortion more reminiscent of a silent horror movie, while frequently finding or ruling for the vested interests who his or her lordship dare not upset.
In an attempt to address the cost aspect of obtaining justice in Scotland’s Victorian civil courts, the Scottish Government’s Taylor Review of Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation in Scotland has announced a consultation which readers and anyone with an interest in access to justice issues in Scotland should participate in. I also encourage anyone who does participate in the Taylor Review to ask their msp to participate. After all, you can bet your last penny the vested interests of the legal profession are participating in the consultation, and demanding costs be kept as they are, so justice can be delivered at great expense rather than being delivered on the cheap.
Heaven help Scotland’s greedy multi billion pound legal services rip-off industry if costs of going to court or conducting litigation were ever likely to be reduced …
The Taylor Review consultation paper is available to download here:
An announcement from the Taylor Review Team encourages participation in the consultation, stating : We hope that the consultation process will generate considerable debate and that you will feel able to respond to the questions that we pose. Please do not feel that you must respond to every question. There may be particular issues which interest you and you should feel free to limit your answers to such areas. If there are additional points that you wish to make that are not covered by the Consultation Paper then please feel free to do so.
You can find out more about the Taylor Review HERE and readers should note responses to the consultation are to be received by the review team no later than Friday 16 March 2012.
STATEMENT BY SHERIFF PRINCIPAL TAYLOR
LAUNCH OF TAYLOR REVIEW CONSULTATION
In September 2009, the Scottish Civil Court's Review (SCCR) under the chairmanship of The Rt. Hon. Lord Gill presented its Report to the Scottish Government. I am pleased that the Scottish Government has responded so positively to the recommendations in the Report.
The Board of the SCCR knew that Lord Justice Jackson was undertaking a Review of Civil Litigation Costs in England and Wales and would be reporting in early 2010. Accordingly, the Board thought it would be prudent to await the outcome of LJ Jackson's Report before formulating recommendations on judicial expenses in this jurisdiction.
LJ Jackson reported in 2010 and the Westminster Government has responded to that Report. The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is presently making its way through the Westminster Parliament.
Earlier this year I was invited by the Scottish Government to chair a Review into the Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation in Scotland. Part of my remit is to consult widely. Since the Review commenced, we have spoken to a number of people with an interest in the Scottish civil judicial process in order that we might identify those areas where it is thought that reform is necessary. We wrote to over 90 individuals and bodies seeking guidance on the issues upon which we should be consulting. I am also deeply indebted to the members of the Reference Group who have given of their time both generously and free of charge. Their contribution has been invaluable. This consultation document is the product of these discussions and responses. The responsibility for the content is, nonetheless, mine.
The consultation document covers a wide range of issues which have a significant impact on access to justice. Access to justice is a right and it has been said with some force that its absence is "an enemy of the rule of law". For example, we ask for views on whether access to justice would be improved if lawyers in Scotland were allowed to enter into agreements with clients whereby the lawyers could express their fee as a percentage of the damages recovered. We also give an opportunity for members of the public and lawyers alike to give their views on the desirability of referral fees which is an issue which has generated considerable interest south of the border.
It is a matter of chance that we embark upon consultation at a time when the Westminster Bill is being debated in the House of Lords. The Scottish Government recognises the importance of access to justice and has adopted a different approach from its English and Welsh counterparts. It does not intend to make major changes to the scope of legal aid even in these times of austerity. It would however wish legal aid to become "a funder of last resort."
I hope that there will be considerable debate generated by this document and that I will receive responses from as many sources as is possible. By so responding the Scottish public and professions will hopefully draw attention to all aspects of the issues contained in the consultation document. To assist the consultation process we propose to have public meetings in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. A wide range of responses should minimise the risk of there being unintended consequences arising out of the recommendations which will eventually be contained in my Report. I intend to report before the end of 2012.