New Rules for Sheriff Appeal Court

Dec 13, 2021
 

Act of Sederunt (Sheriff Appeal Court Rules) 2021/468

This Act of Sederunt consolidates and restates the Act of Sederunt (Sheriff Appeal Court Rules) 2015/356 with modifications. It makes provision about the procedure to be followed in appeals to the Sheriff Appeal Court in civil proceedings. The rules come into force on 6 January 2022.

Background

The Sheriff Appeal Court took up its civil jurisdiction on 1 January 2016 and at that time, the Act of Sederunt (Sheriff Appeal Court Rules) 2015/356 came into force to support the court’s day-to-day operations.

The 2015 rules will be revoked on commencement of the new 2021 rules. From the date of commencement on 6 January 2022, the Sheriff Appeal Court will operate under the revised court procedures set out in the 2021 rules.

Sheriff Appeal Court Rules Review

The 2021 rules have been developed following upon an operational review of the 2015 rules conducted by the Sheriffs Principal. The aim of the review was to deliver an improved appeals process where:

  • appeals can be progressed more quickly;
  • the court can operate flexibly and more efficiently;
  • the court procedure supports appeals being heard by a bench size proportionate to the appeal points raised; and
  • the court rules are set out in a way that is much easier to use and understand.

    During the review, an informal consultation was undertaken with the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Sheriffs Association.  These bodies represent the key external stakeholders that have regular interactions with the court rules and the judiciary and staff within the Sheriff Appeal Court.

    Structural changes in 2021 Rules

    The key structural changes within the new rules are:

  • To support a greater level of information being provided to the court earlier in the appeal process, a number of rules have been relocated within Chapter 6Initiation and progress of an appeal alongside the test that is to be applied before the procedural Appeal Sheriff decides which procedure an appeal will be appointed to.

     

  • To minimise confusion around the appropriate appeal procedures, the two relevant procedures have been re-named and co-located immediately after the test that is to be applied i.e. Chapter 7: Procedure before three appeals sheriffs and Chapter 8: Procedure before one appeal sheriff.


    Policy changes in the 2021 rules

    The principle policy changes underpinning the new rules are:

  • A change to frontloading the information required e.g. obtaining representations from both appellants and respondents about their views on appropriate procedure; and requiring information earlier in the appeals process for:

    a) cross-appeals and responses to cross appeals;

    b) requests for urgent disposal;

    c) questions raised on the competency of an appeal; and

    d) requests to sist an appeal. 

  • Clarifying the content of the test to be applied before a procedural Appeal Sheriff issues orders on the most appropriate size of bench, including those where urgent disposal applies.

    Additional rules provision

    The Scottish Government announced that it will commence all remaining provisions in the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) on 17 December 2021.

    The Council agreed that a new chapter should be created within the 2021 rules to cover timescales, appeal avenues and form requirements due to the unique demands of the case types arising under the provisions of the 2019 Act. Appeals under the 2019 Act will therefore follow the procedure set out in the new chapter 33 and are made by lodging a note of appeal in a new Form 33.2.

    Administrative changes in the 2021 rules

    A number of rule changes have been made to improve administrative procedures and create operational efficiencies. Full details can be found in the policy note which accompanies the rules instrument.

 

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Providing Feedback

The SCJC welcomes feedback on any aspect of court rules.

Please email your comments to the Secretariat scjc@scotcourts.gov.uk