About the Scottish Civil Justice Council

The Scottish Civil Justice Council was established on 28 May 2013 under the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Act 2013.  It prepares draft rules of procedure for the civil courts and advises the Lord President on the development of the civil justice system in Scotland. The Scottish Civil Justice Council replaced the Court of Session Rules Council and the Sheriff Court Rules Council, taking over the rule drafting functions of those bodies and also has a wider role to advise and make recommendations on the civil justice system.

The creation of a single civil rules council for Scotland was one of the recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review.  Many of the review recommendations require new rules of court and the Scottish Civil Justice Council, which has oversight of the entire civil justice system, is responsible for taking these forward.  The Council is also responsible for keeping the civil justice system under constant review.

Functions and powers

The Council’s functions include:

  • keeping the civil justice system under review;
  • reviewing the practice and procedure followed in the Court of Session and in civil proceedings in the Sheriff Appeal Court or the sheriff court;
  • reviewing the practice and procedure followed in inquiry proceedings under the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc (Scotland) Act 2016;
  • preparing and submitting to the Court of Session draft civil procedure rules, draft fees rules and draft inquiry procedure rules;
  • advising and making recommendations on the development of and changes to the civil justice system in Scotland.

The Council has broad powers to help it carry out its functions, including the ability to make recommendations to the Scottish Ministers, conduct consultations and commission research.  It is also able to take into account proposals for reform when preparing draft rules.

Guiding principles

In carrying out its functions, the Council must have regard to the following principles:

  • the civil justice system should be fair, accessible and efficient;
  • rules relating to practice and procedure should be as clear and easy to understand as possible;
  • practice and procedure in the civil courts should be as similar as possible, where appropriate; and
  • alternative methods of dispute resolution should be promoted, where appropriate.

Who sits on the SCJC?

The Council has between 14 and 20 members who are drawn from a range of groups involved in the civil justice system. An overview of the membership of the SCJC is available here.

Read more about the current members here.

SCJC Standing Orders

The Council Standing Orders are a series of rules that govern how the SCJC and its Committees are run.  They are available here.

SCJC meetings

The Council normally meets 4 times a year. Confirmed dates of meetings are as follows:

Monday 01 March 2021 (strategy meeting)

Monday 26 April 2021 (to discuss QOCS draft rules instrument)

Monday 24 May 2021 (to discuss the outcome of the Civil Business Post Covid Conference held on 10 May).

Monday 19 July 2021   

Monday 18 October 2021
Minutes, agendas and papers for Council meetings are available here.