The Sheriffdom of Tayside, Central and Fife has announced that
from 3 April 2017, it is to create a specific court dedicated to
dealing with commercial disputes.
The newest commercial court in Scotland will sit at Dundee,
Forfar and Perth Sheriff Courts with Perth taking the
administrative burden. All commercial actions will be commenced in
Perth Sheriff Court and thereafter all documents will be lodged and
This new commercial court has been welcomed by Sheriff Principal
Marysia Lewis stating that it will help "maintain a high
standard of judicial decision-making efficiently delivered after
taking into account the resources available to achieve it".
Following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court in 1999, the use of
commercial courts has gone from strength to strength with increased
use in Scotland. This can be attributed to the clear benefits
associated with raising a commercial action rather than following
the ordinary court procedure:
In a commercial action one sheriff is allocated to the case at
the outset of proceedings and he/she retains control throughout.
This provides consistency and ensures that the same approach is
taken to the claim throughout;
The sheriffs appointed to a commercial action must have a
background in commercial litigation;
There is more flexibility provided to sheriffs in commercial
actions. In addition to his/her normal "referee" and
decision maker role in the dispute, he/she also acts as the case
manager and directs the procedural progress of the action. He/she
is expected to be proactive and take initiative to promote the
speedy resolution of the claim, for example, the timescale tailored
by the court reflects the nature of the dispute, compared to
ordinary actions where timescales are fixed for various stages of
Sheriffs in commercial actions are able to adopt innovative
steps unconstrained by rules, provided they are intended to achieve
a swifter resolution to the case. This autonomy is not provided to
sheriffs in ordinary actions;
Commercial actions have a case management conference which
occurs seven weeks after the commencement of the action. This is
the first real airing of the issues in the action and is much
quicker than in ordinary procedures, where the first similar
hearing is four months after the action is raised; and
Hearings can occur over the phone, personal appearance by
parties is not required and a specific time is given for the case
to be heard. This prevents the long-waiting times and delayed
proceedings that are common in ordinary procedure.
This news is welcomed by us and can only mean commercial clients
will be better served within Sheriffdoms.
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general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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